Q&A with Fiddler on the Roof's Jackie Hoffman

Show-Score | Jul 13, 2018

We sat down with Jackie Hoffman, who plays Yente in the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene's production of "Fiddler on The Roof." 

Show-Score: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. Is it your first time in a production with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene?

Jackie Hoffman: Nine years of Yeshiva and thirty years of acting. This is my first production with Folksbiene! 

S-S: "Fiddler on the Roof" is such a well-loved musical. What's in been like working on a production that's adding an exciting new depth to it? 
JH: Very meaningful and emotional. It goes deep with this show, particularly in this language. 

S-S: Did you have to learn Yiddish for this production or were you fluent prior to joining the cast? 
JH: I only knew a few words and sadly I didn’t learn Yiddish but I learned my lines! 

S-S: Did you work with a language coach, to get the language right? Did you incorporate mastering the language into your rehearsal process?    
JH: There is a marvelous coach here named Motl Didner who helped me. And they are all very nit picky about us getting it right. The language has become the dominant thing for me in the whole process 

S-S: How has performing the show in Yiddish changed or enhanced the way you relate to your character? How do you think it'll change or enhance the way audiences enjoy the show? 
JH: I had always heard Yente by rote, even though I’ve never been in a production! This language brings her much closer to my grandparents and ancestors who spoke the language. There have been so many productions in English and the Yiddish brings a freshness and a humor and tragedy on a much deeper level. It’s very special. 

S-S: Your director, Joel Grey, is something of a theatrical icon. What's it like working with someone who has such a rich and dynamic theatrical history?
JH: It’s thrilling but like any icon I have to separate myself from it or I’ll never leave him alone. It’s an honor learning from someone with that much time in the business. 

S-S: Why do you think Show-Score members should head to see your show?
JH: Do you even need to ask? This cast, led by the phenomenal Steven Skybell is beyond. To hear everyone speak and sing in this language is indescribable. And there are subtitles in English. And I’m Yente!  

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