Jackie Hoffman knows how to have fun onstage, whether in her acclaimed one-woman shows, camping it up on Broadway as Grandma in The Addams Family, or as prissy Prudy Pingleton in Hairspray. Lately, the Second City vet has added a linguistic twist to her dead-on delivery, co-starring as Yente the matchmaker in Joel Grey’s phenomenally successful Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof, currently playing Off-Broadway at Stage 42 in midtown Manhattan.
“Oh God, it’ll be a year in July,” she says. “[It] was supposed to be just a summer thing last year, and then it took off and we extended it to the end of the year, and then we moved theaters, and now we’re running there through the summer, God willing.”
While Hoffman has been tickling audience funny bones with her marvelous portrayal, the actress says that exercising her musical-comedy talents in a familiar but still foreign tongue definitely has kept her on her toes. “I call it mouth aerobics,” she says. “It’s like a really physical language and you really have to chew on it. And then the concentration has to be even harder, because you know you can’t fuck up, because you can’t ad lib. It’s very intense.”
Taking a one-night break from the show, Hoffman will join the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington as emcee of their annual Spring Affair fundraising gala on Saturday, May 11th, at the Ritz-Carlton.
Touting a Greek-inspired “Legends of Olympus” theme, the evening promises to place committed LGBTQ ally Hoffman among an appreciative crowd. Known not just for her work in theatre, but for numerous film and TV roles — including an Emmy-nominated performance as Joan Crawford’s fiercely protective maid Mamacita in Ryan Murphy’s FX series Feud — Hoffman is well-aware of the special relationship between gay audiences and the divas they love. She clearly cherishes the relationship, and shows it with her proud support of LGBTQ causes.
“I mean, without them I really don’t have much of an audience. And I believe they should be treated like first-class citizens, because they are,” says Hoffman. “Also, I’m in the theater, I’m in the arts. So, you know, gay people are my world. And I’m very happy about that.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington Spring Affair is Saturday, May 11, at the Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd Street NW. Tickets are $225 per person, or $2,250 for a table of ten. Call 202-293-1548, or visit www.gmcw.org.