American TV veteran Jackie Hoffman to play Yente – in Yiddish

You’ve seen her in Difficult People, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Strangers with Candy. Now Jackie Hoffman is taking on a new role, this time in Yiddish.

Hoffman, a veteran of film, television and stage, was recently cast in the iconic role of Yente in an upcoming Yiddish adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.

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The musical will began its eight-week run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City in July as a production of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.

It will be directed by Joel Grey, winner of an Oscar, a Tony and a Golden Globe Award during his long career.

The two lead roles, Tevye and Golde, will be played by two alumni of the recent Broadway staging of Fiddler on the Roof – Steven Skybell and Jill Abramovitz. Skybell played Lazar Wolf and Abramowitz had the role of Grandma Tzeitel.

“This is a historic moment for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene,” said the theater’s CEO, Christopher Massimine, in a statement earlier this week. “With the completion of the casting, and commencement of rehearsals, we begin to visibly breathe life into this vibrant Yiddish translation that has not graced the stage in over 50 years…. its messages of survival and hope are as timely and resonant as ever.”

The original Broadway production, which premiered in 1964, was in English, but based on the Yiddish stories written by Sholem Aleichem. Long before the Broadway show and subsequent film, Aleichem’s stories were staged in Yiddish theater.

The only previous Yiddish adaptation of the Broadway version of the show – which differs considerably from Aleichem’s tales – was in Tel Aviv in the 1960s.

The Folksbiene staging will be accompanied by subtitles in English and Russian.