James Monroe Števko, Chicagoland native, was interviewed this week for Tablet Magazine’s Unorthodox Podcast, recounting on his experience as a gentile in the Jewish musical, Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Joel Grey, a New York Times Critics Pick.
The podcast also features Alisa Solomon, Fiddler on the Roof historian and author of the Book Wonder of Wonders, and Rachel Zatcoff who plays Tsaytl in the production.
“Fidler afn Dakh” is directed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and Golden Globe winner, Joel Grey and also featuring famed comic, an alum of Chicago’s Second City, Jackie Hoffman appears as Yente. This is the first time in 50 years this production is being performed after it’s original debut in Israel.
Since graduating NIU, where he started dancing at 18, he has also appeared in NYC at Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes and The Metropolitan Opera. His Chicago credits include: Joseph…Dreamcoat at Drury Lane, multiple seasons at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, and The Paramount in Aurora.
“Before rehearsal started, the thought of acting in another language seemed impossible. But we first worked the scenes in English with Joel. That, combined with our Yiddish coaching, made it a seamless transition,” explains James. “Having the opportunity to be directed by a legend in my New York City acting debut is the chance of a lifetime!”
James made his acting debut in Houston, in Rob Ashford’s Carousel as Enoch Snow Jr., the production which premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Earlier this year, he was cast in the annual Broadway Bares of Fire Island, Broadway’s hottest fundraiser raising over $1 millions for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In addition to performing, James has become a sought-after teacher in dance, teaching ballet, jazz and musical theatre throughout the US as well as contributing to Dance Teacher Magazine. He currently teaches on the Upper East Side at Ballet and Body and is a sought-after ballet guest artist. Information for classes and guest performances are available on his website (jmstevko.com). His blossoming instagram features behind the scenes looks of his current performances @jmstevko
Link to podcast: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/267604/unorthodox-episode-145-fiddler-in-yiddish