A “YENTA IS BORN”

The Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” performed in the characters’ native tongue, is one of the hottest tickets in town. Star of stage, screen, and resident yenta Jackie Hoffman is here with a preview.

Aired on October 31, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

'FIDDLER ON THE ROOF' IN YIDDISH.

A PERFECT MATCH AND WOULD BE RIGHT PAP NEW OFF-BROADWAY REVIVAL OF THE PRODUCTION SPOKEN AND SUNG IN YIDDISH.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH TO UNDERSTAND IT.

THE PRODUCTION ACCOMPANIED BY BLISH AND RUSSIAN SUBTITLES PRODUCED BY THE NATIONAL YIDDISH THEATER, A NEW YORK-BASED ORGANIZATION WITH A 103-YEAR HISTORY.

THE PRODUCTION COMES TO LIFE AT THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE HERE IN MANHATTAN.

THE SHOW IS DIRECTED BY TONY AND OSCAR AWARD WINNER.

TAKE A QUICK LOOK.

♪ YIDDISH POINT AND A CHOICE ♪ ♪ [ SINGING ISN'T FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] ♪

> JOINING US NOW, JACKIE, ONE OF OUR FAVORITES BACK TO VISIT AND KCHRISTOPHER.

WELCOME TO YOU BOTH.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

GLAD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

JACKIE, ASK YOU THIS.

I'M ALWAYS INTERESTED IN WHAT ACTORS, THE FIRST REACTIONS, WHAT AN UNUSUAL PROJECT THAT'S PUT IN FRONT OF THEM.

SO A VETERAN OF THIS.

BUT WHEN SOMEONE REACHED OUT AND SAID HERE'S WHAT WE WANT TO DO AND WE WANT TO DO IT IN YIDDISH.

YOUR FIRST REACTION?

RCH

PANIC.

AND YOUR SECOND REACTION?

PANIC.

I BETTER START STUDYING.

SPEAK ANY YIDDISH BEFORE THIS?

I DID AS WE SAY IN THE LANGUAGE OF BISSELL.

WORDS HERE AND THERE BUT DUE TO MY UPBRINGING BUT NEVER ABLE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION.

SO TELL ME ABOUT -- DO YOU STUDY?

WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE ABLE TO TAKE ON THIS ROLE?

WELL, THERE'S A -- A WONDERFUL STAFF OF YIDDISH COACHERS.

THERE'S SOMEONE WHO'S NAME IS ACTUALLY M LLY MUTTAL AND IE S.

MEMORIZING GOING TO MEDICAL OR LAW SCHOOL.

I JUST HAD TO KEEP DRILLING IT.

[ SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]

SUCH AN ICONIC CHARACTER.

AND I'VE HAD ALL OF THOSE ROLE MODELS TO LOOK TO YET I WANTED TO MAKE IT MY OWN, AND I THINK I DID THAT, BUT THE YIDDISH GREATLY INFORMED IT, BECAUSE IT GIVES IT JUST SUCH A DIFFERENT FEEL, AND I WOULD THINK WHO DO I KNOW WHO WOULD SOUND LIKE THIS?

AND I HAD IMAGES OF WOMEN IN MY PAST THAT HELP IMMEDIATE DEVELOP THIS CHARACTER.

WHAT DID YOU ANTICIPATE AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?

YEARS AGO WHEN I STARTED AT THIS COMPANY WE HAD MOSTLY NATIVE YIDDISH SPEAKERS.

ABOUT 47%, PERCENTAGE.

TODAY I'M EXCITED TO REPORT WE WERE AT 99% AT OF LAST SEASON'S.

CAPACITY AT 110% CAST NOW.

THIS SHOW HAS DONE AMAZING THINGS FOR THIS THEATER.

AUDIENCES, STILL HAVE A LOT OF YIDDISH SPEAKERS BUT ALSO PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE AND BACKGROUNDS.

THE CONSUME THING OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS THE AUDIENCE IS GETTING YOUNGER.

ENTHUSIASTS, OPERA ENTHUSIASTS AT THE SHOW.

DID YOU EXPECT THAT?

NO.

KNEW IT WOULD BE A SPECIAL PRODUCTION AND CAST AND TEAM KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING WONDERFUL HERE.

AT THE OUTPOURING AND REACTION FROM THE AUDIENCE, IT'S TREMENDOUS.

THE WORD OF MOUTH MADE THIS LIKE A SENSATION, IT'S HUMBLING.

GREAT TO SEE HOW ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE ARE EMBRACING YIDDISH AND FASCINATED BY THE LANGUAGE.

A LOT HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A YIDDISH-SPEAKING PRODUCTION BEFORE AND WE'RE GETTING AFRICAN-AMERICANS, WHITE GENTILES ALL GIVING THE SAME GUT EMOTIONAL EXTREMELY EMOTIONAL RESPONSE.

THEY ALL TELL US.

DOES IT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT TO YOU, AS AN ACTOR?

EMOTIONALLY?

WHEN YOU'RE DELIVERING IT IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE FROM WHAT YOU'RE USED TO?

ABSOLUTELY.

IT -- IT BRINGS SUCH A -- GREATER INTENSITY TO EVERYTHING.

AND THE FUNNY THING, IT'S PLAYING BEAUTIFUL AS A MUSICAL COMEDY AND THE COMIC LINES ARE HILARIOUS.

AND THE TRAGEDY IS ABSOLUTELY GUTWRENCHING.

I MEAN, PEOPLE ARE CRYING IN THE AUDIENCE.

IT IS ONE OF THOSE SHOWS, PEOPLE TALK ABOUT ROLLER COASTERS.

THIS IS AS MUCH A ROLLER COASTER, I THINK, AS YOU CAN BE ON.

YEAH.

THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS A LOT DEEPER.

SOMETHING PURE AND RAW AND DEEP ABOUT THIS LANGUAGE.

AUTHENTIC.

RIGHT?

YEAH.

LIKE AN AAUTHENTICITY.

IN THE LANGUAGE THAT THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN SPEAKING.

FLASH BACK 100 YEARS AGO.

YIDDISH WAS THE CONNECTOR LANGUAGE.

RIGHT?

MAYBE ONE OTHER LANGUAGE THAT WAS A LANGUAGE OF THE WORLD, AND THAT WAS LATIN, BUT THAT WAS THE LANGUAGE OF AN EMPIRE.

THIS WAS A LANGUAGE OF COMMUNITY.

THIS CONNECTED PEOPLE FROM ALL DIFFERENT WALKS OF LIFE IN ALL DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

FROM POLAND, YOU'RE FROM RUSSIA, MIGHT NOT SPEAK EACH OTHER'S NATIVE LANGUAGE, 100 YEARS AGO SPOKE YIDDISH.

AS THE PEOPLE STAGE, WE CONNECT GENERATION, DIVERSITIES, DIFFERENT WALKS OF LIFE THROUGH JEWISH LIFE.

USE THAT AS A UNIVERSAL -- 'FIDDLER' DOES IT QUITE WELL.

A MARVELOUS APPROACH TO A PRODUCTION.

EVERYTHING PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT IT SAY IT'S GREAT.

SO CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU.

THE WORK YOU'RE DOING.

JACKIE, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

HAVE TO SCHEDULE YOU ONCE A YEAR TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE GOING.

THANK YOU FOR COMING UP AND SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

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