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Stephen Mo Hanan and Avi Hoffman to Star in National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene's THE MEGILE OF ITZIK MANGER, 3/2-16; Cast Announced!

Following a wildly successful Off Broadway run last Spring, The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene's critically-acclaimed musical production "The Megile of Itzik Manger" will return to Baruch Performing Arts Center for a two week limited engagement, March 2 - 16.

New to the cast, starring alongside Tony Nominee Stephen Mo Hanan, is Drama Desk nominee Avi Hoffman. Hoffman's hit one man shows "Too Jewish?" & "Too Jewish Two!" landed such praise that he was named Performer of the Year by NY Press Magazine. On TV, Mr. Hoffman's "Too Jewish?" has been broadcasted nationally on PBS. He was featured as Teddy Wayne in the NBC series "Law and Order". He starred in the motion picture -"The Imported Bridegroom", which received national acclaim and was featured at the Montreal and Boston Film Festivals. Hoffman was also seen in the PBS documentary "They Came for Good: a History of Jewish in the US."

Hoffman will be accompanied by new cast members MAC Award winner Adam Shapiro, Alan Schmuckler, and Rachel Arielle Yucht. Filling out the returning cast members are Stacey Harris, Andrew Keltz, Rebecca Keren, and Hannah D. Scott.

A whimsical circus-inspired adaptation based on the familiar tale of Queen Esther, "The Megile of Itzik Manger" is filled with music, acrobatic thrills, magic, larger-than-life puppets, dance, and comedy. With innovative post-modern staging, the production is set simultaneously in Biblical Persia and inter-war Poland, housed within in the center ring of the big-top.

A special Purim celebration is set for the evening of March 15, sponsored by 67 Wine & Spirits and Boston Beer Company. This special performance will include a reading of The Megillah of Esther 30 minutes previous to the 9pm curtain. The reading will be presented in Yiddish with English translations. The performance following will conclude with a reception and costume contest judged by Luxury Fashion Designers Caitlin Kelly, owner of Caitlin Kelly Designer Swimwear; and Hila Geller, Design Director at Robert Graham Designs.

"The Megile of Itzik Manger's" music is composed by Dov Seltzer, with the book and lyrics authored by Shmuel Bunim, Haim Hefer, Itzik Manger and Dov Seltzer. The production team includes Folksbiene Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner back at the helm as director, Folksbiene Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek as music director, Merete Muenter as choreographer, circus innovator Jenny Romaine as production designer, Natalie Robin as lighting designer, Benjamin Furiga as sound designer, Shayna O'Neill as production stage manager, and Christopher Massimine as supervising producer.

"The Megile of Itzik Manger" is presented in Yiddish and with some English, complemented with English and Russian supertitles.

Performances will run Sunday at 2pm & 6pm; Weds at 2pm & 7:30pm; Thurs at noon & 7:30pm, Saturday March 8 at 8:30pm; Saturday March 15 at 9pm. For tickets, which are $40 Orchestra and $35 Balcony, visit the Baruch Performing Arts Center box office, or call (866) 811-4111, or visit



AVI HOFFMAN has entertained millions of people with his humor, his pathos and his passionate singing voice. His extensive resume includes his groundbreaking productions of SONGS OF PARADISE with the famous Broadway Impresario Joe Papp and the NY productions of THE GOLDEN LAND and THE RISE OF DAVID LEVINSKY. He is currently appearing on the Starz television series MAGIC CITY, as lawyer Sid Raskin, and has been featured on NBC's LAW & ORDER and A&E's THE GLADES. >From NY to Los Angeles, from the stage to the big screen, Avi has received numerous awards and great acclaim with critics and audiences alike.

STACEY HARRIS THE GOLDEN LAND (Folksbiene). Broadway: BELLS ARE RINGING, off-Broadway: LONE STAR LOVE, National Tours: SHOW BOAT, CINDERELLA, DREAMGIRLS. Regional favorites: DAMN YANKEES (Lola), CHICAGO (Roxie), BYE BYE BIRDIE (Rosie), WEST SIDE STORY (Anita), GREASE (Rizzo), MY ONE AND ONLY (Edythe), ROMANCE, ROMANCE (Josefine/Monica), A CHORUS LINE (Diana Morales), 'S WONDERFUL (Jane), 42ND STREET (Anytime Annie), RUN FOR YOUR WIFE (Barbara), THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO (Lala), and SYNCOPATION (Anna). ANDREW KELTZ made his off-broadway debut in THE GOLDEN LAND (Folksbiene). Select regional credits include: FOLLIES, HOW CAN YOU RUN WITH A SHELL ON YOUR BACK? (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), SNOW QUEEN, JACOB AND JACK (Victory Gardens Theater), YEAST NATION (American Theater Company), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, BOWERY BOYS, ALADDIN (Marriott Theatre), PIPPIN (TMTC), THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE (Drury Lane Oakbrook), A FEW GOOD MEN, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, OVER THE TAVERN (Peninsula Players), and BILOXI BLUES (Forestburgh Playhouse). REBECCA KEREN Rebecca has collaborated with Tony-nominee Elizabeth Swados for the last seven years. Projects together include FROM THE FIRE (Judson Church), ATONEMENT:AN ORATORIO (Manhattan JCC, The Actor's Temple), RACHEL AND LEAH (LaMaMa E.T.C./Axelrod PAC Workshops), JEWISH BOOKS COOKING(Manhattan JCC/Bryant Park), & THE DYBBUK (NYU). Other Credits: ABRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY , & CYMBELINE. Rebecca is a member of The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene's Troupe.

ADAM SHAPIRO will be supporting cast member of the upcoming film "The Cobbler" starring Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, and Dustin Hoffman. GIMPEL TAM (Folksbiene - Gimpel), JEWSICAL, GUIDE TO THE PERFECT BREAK UP, National Tours: ZORRO, THE MUSICAL (Sgt. Garcia); HENRY AND MUDGE (Mudge); PINOCCHIO (Geppetto), Regional: RAGTIME (Fiddlehead Theatre Stage Company - Tateh)

ALAN SCHMUCKLER is a three-time Joseph Jefferson-nominated actor, for "Jerry/Daphne" in SUGAR (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace - Actor in a Lead Role, Musical); six months as "Officer Marcus Moscowicz" in MURDER FOR TWO (Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Actor in a Lead Role, Musical); and "Marchbanks" in A Minister's Wife (Writers' Theatre - Actor in a Supporting Role, Musical). His New York credits include NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater) and STARS OF DAVID (DR2 Theatre). Chicagoland credits include "Mark Cohen" in RENT (American Theater Company/About Face Theatre, directed by David Cromer - Jeff nomination, Best Production, Musical); "Jamie" in THE LAST FIVE YEARS and "Charley Kringas" in MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (The Music Theatre Company - Jeff nomination for the latter, Best Production, Musical); as well as work with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Marriott Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, TimeLine Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane Water Tower Place, Noble Fool Theatricals, Provision Theater, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Humanities Festival (Follies, Assassins). His regional credits include work at Indiana Repertory Theatre and Wagon Wheel Theatre.

RACHEL ARIELLE YUCHT NY Credits include FROM THE GOLDEN LAND (Lincoln Center), THE CHRISTMAS ROSE (Carnegie Hall), MISUNDERSTOOD (Emerging Artists/TADA). Regional credits include SUMMER OF LOVE and 9 TO 5 (Ogunquit Playhouse), CABARET and A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Seacoast Rep), JOSEPH (NJ State Theater).


DOV SELTZER (book, lyrics, and music) is one of the leading Israeli composers. He started his career as a song writer, and has composed some of the most successful Israeli musicals, music for theater, film scores and lately symphonic and concert hall music. He wrote hundreds of songs, many of which have become an integral part of the new Israeli folklore. Among his most well known musicals are KAZABLAN, I LIKE MIKE, UTZ LI GUTZ LI, THE MEGILE, and others. He wrote the musical scores for more than forty films, produced both in Israel and abroad. Among his symphonic works are STEMPENIU - a dramatic legend for narrator, violin and SO, (the work was commissioned and premiered by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra); TRADITION - Jewish songs for violin and SO, commissioned and recorded for a CD by Itzhak Perlman and the I.P.O.; RHAPSODIE HASSIDIQUE for violin and SO, commissioned and premiered by Lord Yehudi Menuhin in London; THE GOLD IN THE ASHES - a symphonic poem in commemoration of 500 years for the expulsion of the Spanish Jews, and others. Together with French dramatist Jacques Rampal he wrote the Opera ESMERALDA based on the famous novel by Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre Dame. His work LAMENT TO YITZHAK - A REQUIEM IN MEMORY OF YITZHAK RABIN, premiered in April 1998 by the IPO, with soloists, the New Israeli Opera Choir, and the Ankor Children's Choir, under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta, as the opening of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the State of Israel. Additional performances of the work were given by the New York Philharmonic, with soloists, the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, and the Harlem Boys Choir, conducted by Maestro Kurt Masur, as part of the 1999 Lincoln Center Festival.

ITZIK MANGER (book and lyrics) (30 May 1901, Czernowitz, then Austrian-Hungarian Empire - 21 February 1969, Gedera, Israel) (Yiddish: ????? ???????) was a prominent Yiddish poet and playwright, a self-proclaimed folk bard, visionary, and 'master tailor' of the written word. A Jew from Bucovina, Manger lived in Romania, Poland, France, England and finally Israel. Contents 1 Early life, 2 Young poet, 3 Literary success 3.1 Working with Biblical themes, , 4 From Warsaw to Tel Aviv, 5 Acclaim in Israel and elsewhere, 6 books, 7 References, 8 External links, Early life: Manger was born in Czernowitz, Austria-Hungary (later Romania and now Ukraine) in 1901. His father, Hillel Manger, was a skilled tailor in love with literature. As a teenager, Manger attended the Kaiser Königlicher Dritter Staats-Gymnasium, where he studied German literature until he was expelled for pranks and bad behavior. He exchanged this traditional education for the backstage atmosphere of the Yiddish theatre. Young poet: In 1921, Manger began publishing his early poems and ballads in several new literary journals founded in the aftermath of World War I. Soon afterwards, he settled in Bucharest and wrote for the local Yiddish newspapers while giving occasional lectures on Spanish, Romanian, and Gypsy folklore. In 1927, Manger came to Warsaw, the spiritual and intellectual center of Ashkenazi Jewry and "the most inspiring city in Poland." Manger lived in the capital of the Yiddish cultural world for the next decade, which became the most productive years of his entire career. In 1929, Manger published his first book of poetry, Shtern afn dakh (Stars on the Roof), in Warsaw to critical acclaim. By the following year, Manger was so well known that he was admitted to the select Yiddish P.E.N. club, along with Isaac Bashevis, Israel Rabon, and I. Papiernikov. Literary success: Between 1929 and 1938, Manger took the Warsaw literary world by storm. He gave frequent readings of his own poetry at the Writers' Club, was interviewed by all the major Warsaw Yiddish papers, published articles in the prestigious journal Literarishe Bleter (Literary Pages), issued his own literary journal called Chosen Words filled with his poetry, fiction, and artistic manifestos. At the same time, Manger continued to publish his own works, including a series of modernist poems inspired by the Oral Torah (Itzik's Midrash, 1935), a dramatic rewriting of the Purim story (Songs of the Megillah, 1936), a loose adaptation of Abraham Goldfaden's The Witch of Boto?ani (Hotzmakh's Shpiel, 1937), a series of fictional vignettes on the history of Yiddish literature (Familiar Portraits, 1938), and three more volumes of poetry (Lantern in the Wind, 1933; Velvl Zbarzher Writes Letters to Malkele the Beautiful, 1937; and Twilight in the Mirror, 1937). Working with Biblical themes: Manger's Itzik's Midrash and Songs of the Megillah deserve special mention, as they represent his first attempts to re-write old, familiar material through a modernist lens. In Itzik's Midrash, Manger presents a modern commentary on the classic Bible stories by anachronistically placing his characters in contemporary Eastern Europe. Manger's playful attitude towards the original text is self-evident; in the introduction he writes, "As I wrote this book, the rogue's cap of the Yiddish Purim play hovered always before my eyes." Inspired by the Purimshpiel genre, which used a traditional story to mock the norms and expectations of Jewish religious life in previous centuries, Manger's Midrash radically revises traditional portrayals of Biblical characters by requiring them to justify their actions according to modern norms and values. Traditionally valued characters such as Abraham and Sarah are harshly critiqued, while underrepresented characters like Hagar and Ishmael are given a voice at last. In Songs of the Megillah, Manger uses a similar technique to politicize and de-sacralize the Biblical text read aloud on Purim. Once again, Manger's introduction classifies the book as "a kind of mischief-making on the model of Purim players in every age." Like Itzik's Midrash, Songs of the Megillah is a modern, radical retelling of the story of Esther set in contemporary Eastern Europe. Manger even introduces a new character into the narrative: Fastrigosso, Esther's jilted lover and a member of the Needles and Thread Tailors' Union, who conspires to assassinate King Ahashverosh in order to win back Esther's affections. Combined with his 1937 play Hotzmakh's Shpiel, these three revival texts secured Manger his international reputation as "the master recloaker of the oldest and the newest literary traditions." From Warsaw to Tel Aviv: With widespread anti-Semitism in the highest levels of Polish government and society, Jewish life in Warsaw became increasingly dire. Manger decided to leave for Paris in 1938, an exile from his creative homeland. However, Paris was not safe for long. In 1940, Manger fled to Marseilles, Tunis, Liverpool, and finally London, where he became a British citizen and remained unhappily for the next eleven years. Disillusioned and unproductive, Manger immigrated to Israel in 1958, where he remained until his death in Gedera in 1969. Acclaim in Israel and elsewhere: Unlike most other exiled Yiddish writers, Manger was able to achieve significant success in Israeli literary and theatrical circles. In 1965, Dov Seltzer directed a highly popular production of Manger's Songs of the Megillah, breaking the Israeli taboo on Yiddish theatre. Songs of the Megillah was a great success, setting a new record in Israeli theatre with its more than 400 performances.

MATTHEW "MOTL" DIDNER (director) is the Associate Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene. Directing credits include FYVUSH FINKEL LIVE! (Drama Desk Award Nominated), DI TSVEY BRIDER (The Two Brothers), THE PUSHCART PEDDLERS and DI KSUBE (The Marriage Contract). Motl has appeared on stage in GIMPEL TAM (Gimpel the Fool) and performs with Di Folksbiene Trupe (Travelling Troupe). He is a 2013-2014 Translation Fellow at The Yiddish Book Center. Motl has served on the board of The Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring and currently serves on the boards of Yiddish Actors and Friends Artists' Club.

MERETE MUENTER (choreographer) CHICAGO (Director/Choreographer- Woodstock Playhouse), BURLESQUE TO BROADWAY (Choreographer- National Tour), THEY WALK AMONG US (Director/Choreographer- Midtown International Theatre Festival/Winner of Award for Best Choreography), SHERLOCK HOLMES - THE EARLY YEARS (Choreographer - NYMF), THE KING AND I (Choreographer), IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Choreographer), TOMMY (Assistant Choreographer- NYU, directed by Kent Gash), WORLD AIDS DAY GALA (Assistant Director- Capetown, South Africa, directed by Baayork Lee), JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, (European Tour: Assistant Director- directed by Baayork Lee), WEST SIDE STORY (European Tour: Resident Director) JAZZ CHOREOGRAPHY ENTERPRISES, INC., (Artistic Director/Co-Founder).

ZALMEN MLOTEK (music director) is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theatre music and is a leading figure in the Jewish theatre and concert worlds. Mr. Mlotek brought Yiddish-Klezmer music to Broadway and Off-Broadway stages as co-creator, music director, and conductor of THOSE WERE THE DAYS, the first bilingual musical honored with a Drama Desk Award and nominated for two Tony Awards as well as the recent Off Broadway hit THE GOLDEN LAND. He was a composer, arranger, and music director for Isaac Bashevis Singer and Robert Brustein's acclaimed production of SHLEMIEL THE FIRST (ART, ACT, Lincoln Center) and most recently at the Skirball Center.

JENNY ROMAINE (production design) Is a director, designer and puppeteer who is a founding member of the OBIE winning GREAT SMALL WORKS collective, and music director of Jennifer Miller's CIRCUS AMOK. She has been making socially embedded Yiddish spectacle for over 2 decades collaborating with Adrienne Cooper z"l, Frank London, Dr, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Mayer Kirshenblatt and the Folksbiene on their hit family show, KIDS & YIDDISH. She is a member of the AFTSELOKHES SPECTACLE COMMITTEE that produces massive Purimshpiln each year with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. She is artist in residence with MILK NOT JAILS. She is featured in the film PUNK JEWS.

NATALIE ROBIN (lighting design) is a NYC-based lighting designer of theater, opera, dance, music and performance art. She is the associate producer and production manager of AMERICAN REALNESS, a festival of contemporary performance curated by Ben Pryor, a founding company member of Polybe + Seats, an Associate Artist of Target Margin Theater, and an adjunct faculty member at NYU and Brooklyn College. Natalie is the winner of the Apollo Lighting 2011 Standing O Award and was chosen as a 2008 Young Designer to Watch by Live Design Magazine. She is a contributing writer to Live Design Magazine and Stage Directions Magazine. Recent designs include: LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME (Folksbiene), GOD OF CARNAGE and NEXT FALL (Dallas Theater Center), EAST O' WEST O' (Williams College), THE BAD AND THE BETTER directed by Daniel Aukin and POETRY: GAME CHANGERS at BAM.

BENJAMIN FURIGA (sound design) LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME (Folksbiene). Recent credits: BLOODY BESS (John Jay College), TRYING TO GET BY (Atlantic Theater School), FIORELLO (NYU), YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN (Chappell Players/St. John's), PARIS COMMUNE (Civilians), MAGICAL HISTORY TOUR (Floating Theatre NYC), BRAINPEOPLE (New School for Drama), LUCIA'S CHAPTERS OF COMING FORTH BY DAY (Mabou Mines) Broadway Assistant credits: GOLDEN BOY, A FREE MAN OF COLOR (LCT)

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