Avi Hoffman Juggles Two Shows and Two Languages at Once
The only actor in New York to be performing in two shows and two languages simultaneously, Avi Hoffman is currently appearing in the world premiere of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" in Yiddish, and his own critically acclaimed one-man musical tour de force "Still Jewish After All These Years" in English!
Not since Jacob Adler had the audacity to appear on Broadway in a Yiddish-English production of "Merchant of Venice" over 100 years ago has a professional actor juggled cultures in quite this way.
"I don't know how he does it," says David Mandelbaum, artistic director of New Yiddish Rep, which is producing the groundbreaking Yiddish "Godot." "Nor do I want to." Hoffman plays the crackpot buffoon Pozzo in Godot. In "Still Jewish" which The New York Times says is filled with "terrific moments, including a powerful performance [...] he exudes familial warmth and good will."
As he rockets back and forth between Stage 72, where the run of "Still Jewish After All These Years" ends on October 23, and The Castillo Theatre where "Waiting for Godot" plays until October 13, Hoffman claims he is comfortably in his element.
"The good thing is I can't mix up the shows," says Hoffman, whose prequels to "Still Jewish" -- "Too Jewish?" and "Two Jewish, Too" -- were broadcast nationally on PBS. In fact, in a 45-year career dating back to age 10 when he debuted with Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre here in New York, Hoffman has often bounced back and forth between shows in English and shows in the native language of his parents, Holocaust survivors both. Just not at the same time.
Hoffman's double-pronged engagements also mark the actor's return to the New York stage from which he has been absent since 1998. Now he is almost everywhere. Based in South Florida, Hoffman is also preparing a staged reading of "The Rise of David Levinsky," the musical penned by Isaiah Sheffer and Bobby Paul, which will honor Sheffer, the founder of Symphony Space. The open-to-the-public reading of the musical at Symphony Space on Monday October 21 at 7pm, will mark the yartzeit of Sheffer, who died in November of last year. Incidentally, Hoffman, who appeared in the premiere of this show at the American Jewish Theater in 1983 and played the young Levinsky, will star as the adult Levinsky.
Hoffman is currently seen in as Sid Raskin opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the Starz series Magic City.
"Still Jewish After All These Years" performs Tues at 7pm and Wed at 2pm and 7pm Stage 72 (formerly Triad Theatre), 158 West 72nd Street. For tickets, which are $45, call 800/838-3006, or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
"Waiting for Godot" performs Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. For tickets, which are $35, visit www.newyiddishrep.org, or call the Castillo Theare box office, 543 West 42nd Street, at 212/941-1234.