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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Jewish aunts, upbringing helps actress bring ‘Mrs. Strakosh’ to life at ‘The Fox’

The Broadway revival of “Funny Girl” is at the Fabulous Fox Theatre until Feb. 4. If you attend, look for actress Eileen T’Kaye in the role of “Mrs. Strakosh,” a Jewish woman and neighbor of Fanny Brice who’s constantly amazed by Brice’s success on stage.

But unlike her character, T’Kaye, a Jewish actress from Pasadena, Calif, has never been surprised by the person or character that was Fanny Brice or her relevance to audiences in 2024.

“As a young performer, Brice was fearless about her talent and what she had to give to it. She did not have the usual ‘leading look’ and people constantly told her ‘You can’t do it,'” said T’Kaye, during a phone interview from Milwaukee, the stop before the cast arrived in St. Louis. “For me, I always related to her. As a young woman, I was chubby. I was Eastern European looking. I didn’t have the ‘perfect look’ and like Brice, I was told I’d never make it.”

Getting the role

Just like Brice, T’Kaye always believed in herself. She built a career in regional theater and, ironically, landed a role in the touring company of “Funny Girl.”

“Ironic because although I knew the show had great roles for me ‘Funny Girl’ is not produced very often and had not been revived on Broadway for almost 60 years,” said T’Kaye. The show never had a full National tour.  When I heard that was all happening I was very excited.”

But living on the West Coast, T’Kaye says it’s not often she “gets in the room” in New York.

“Perhaps it was divine intervention. I still don’t even know how this happened,” said T’Kaye. “My agent said they wanted to see an audition on tape. Two months later I got a final callback and a week later, they asked me to go on tour. I was like, ‘How did that happen?’ And so it just was.”

On stage as Mrs. Strakosh

In her role as Mrs. Strakosh, T’kaye describes the character as a traditional Jewish woman from Brooklyn with strong opinions about life and love.

“She is part of a group of neighborhood ladies who gather every day, not to play mah jongg, but poker,” said T’Kaye. “Even over poker, they talk about their lives, their kids. Mrs. Strakosh, being the traditionalist, thinks that Fanny Brice should just get married, have children and stop all of the mishegas about wanting to be a performer.”

In creating Mrs. Strakosh for the stage, T’Kaye drew inspiration from her own large, Jewish family.

“Mrs. Strakosh was a fun character to tackle because she’s bits and pieces of members of my family,” said T’Kaye. “I had several aunts that I based her on, so you’ll see a lot of them in her.  It’s been very fun for me to play her.”

Time left to see Fanny Brice and Mrs. Strakosh

Tickets are still available for all remaining performances of “Funny Girl” at the Fox.

T’Kaye said audience members should come prepared to be entertained because being entertained has never been more important.

“I think it’s really important right now that we continue to understand each other a little bit more and that we see a reflection of our lives while we’re being entertained. And I think that’s what this show has to offer. Laugh a little. Cry a little, learn a little, or reflect a little. I think that this show does it right,” said T’Kaye.

‘Funny Girl’ 

When: Shows run through Feb. 4.
Where: Fabulous Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.
More info: Visit them online to purchase tickets. 




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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.