Southern Brooklyn

Take A Wild Guess Who Will Be Portraying A Sheepshead Bay Russian-American?

"K sozhaleniyu, ya poka ne govoryu po russki!" ("Unfortunately, I can not yet speak Russian!") Source:

Remember our pre-summertime write-up about the play, Russian Transport, set “in the Russian-Jewish enclave of Sheepshead Bay,” and written by Sheepshead Bay-native playwright Erika Sheffer?

Production dates, cast and additional creative team members had not then been announced, but now we are informed that the actress, writer, political activist and all-around supah-star Janeane Garofalo will play the role of a Russian mother of two living in the Bay.

From The New York Times:

In a telephone interview, she said she was “as surprised as anyone” about the casting. But it wasn’t any kind of comedy-to-drama genre barrier that caught her off guard. “I don’t speak Russian,” she said. “The character is a Russian immigrant who speaks Russian so I double-checked that that was the part I was supposed to do.” Nonetheless, Ms. Garofalo was drawn to the production by the strength of the script and was convinced by Mr. Elliott that she could play the part. “I could probably fake my way through using broken English with a Russian accent, but he has this way of convincing you that you can do anything,” she said. “It’s an exciting challenge, but at the same time I am terrified about seeming like the biggest fraud in the world.”

Call me a cynic, call me a hater, but I find the casting of Garofalo as a middle-age Russian woman living on Voorhies Avenue, or Dooley Street, or wherever, only slightly more believable than would be the casting of our venerable editor as the Good Witch Glinda in a local production of The Wizard of Oz.

Clearly, they cast this Irish-Italian Catholic from New Jersey because there’s a shortage of Russian-American Jewish mothers in New York City. I guess they didn’t hear that there are a few Russian Dolls looking for work

We can see for ourselves if the casting works beginning January 17 at the Acorn Theater in Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth Avenue and 10th Avenue, where performances will be held. Tickets go on sale December 5. For more, click here.

Comment policy


  1. I continue to be perplexed by the medias, and this sites characterization of “in the Russian-Jewish enclave of Sheepshead Bay”?! As someone who actually lives in the SB area, this comment is simply false. There are certainly a number of Russian Jews in the area, however there are more Ukrainians, many of them, not Jewish at all, or simply, Slavs! To illustrate, my point, try shopping in that wonderful  Supermarket off Neck Road, near our splendid, newly rehabilitated train station, called, Net Cost! As someone who knows a lot about Demographics, you can be sure the overwhelming majority of shoppers, and certainly most of the staff, are not Jews of any stripe. They are honest to goodness, goyishe Slavs!!!

  2. Since when is Garofalo a superstar? She’s moderately amusing and usually plays a unhappy character that seems too real.
    Nonetheless, actors should not be cast in their specific demographic. They should be capable of playing against type, as will definitely be the case here.
    They must have needed a “name” B list performer to spur ticket sales. Good luck with that!

    FYI, don’t see venerable editor as Glinda, but he might make a fine leader of the flying monkeys!

  3. She looks related to Tina Fey, not one of my good friends moms. Sorry, but of all the people in media they could’ve done a lot better -_-

  4. I like her. She’s funny in everything she’s in. I can do without her politics, but regardless, she’s one funny lady. I think it’s a good choice.

  5. Liked for Ned as the leader of the flying monkeys. In fact, I think its time for a new Sheepshead Bites mascot.

  6. I’d say something here about judging people before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves, but even Ms. Garofalo herself doesn’t sound too confident she can pull it off.

    Still, best of luck to the both her and the show’s production.

  7. unless, of course, if they put her in fendi shoes, with versace jeans, a gucci shirt, and prada shades or a juicy couture suit with armani exchange bag, u know,for a sporty look. 
    dye her hair blond, or at least bleach dye the top and leave the bottom of the hair black. tattoo her make up and plump up her lips…. 

  8. another BAD IDEA of a show.

    Why not use someone who actually NEEDS the money….. and who can speak the language needed?

  9. Ethnic Slavs (Russians, Ukranians, etc.) seemed to have arrive in a big number to Brighton and Sheepshead Bay in the past 10 years or so. Before than it really was a bunch of so-called Jews all over the place.

    Funny how those “Russian Jews” are not even real Jews anyway but phonies descended from converts.

  10. Commenter that is a disgustingly ignorant comment. How do you know Russian Jews are converts and oh other Jews are pure? No one can trace their genealogy further than 150 years at most and kudos to those that can. Being Jewish isn’t just about religion it’s about culture- since there are fewer than 1 percent of Jews in the world. For Russian Jews, who lived in former soviet countries that not only supressed THEIR religion but ALL religion for hundreds of years, it is understandable why only a fraction follow traditions. And, it is commendable that they actually want to reunite with their roots.

    Live to love not to hate. live to respect and not judge.

  11. I don’t want to get deeply into it but a few things…

    Just by looking at them, they’re obviously not of Semitic origin (partially at best).
    Do a Google search for “Khazars”

  12. That’s right. No one can trace their genealogy further than 150 years. So then why are these so-called Russian Jews claiming they are the true physical descendants of an ethnic group that existed 3,000 years ago in the Middle East? And not just that, they traveled from the Middle East to Europe over that course of time and remained relatively ethnically homogeneous. That’s absurd!

    It’s all about religion, there is no such thing as Jewish culture.

    Do a Google search for the term “Khazars” and see what you find.

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