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Community Spotlight: Meredith Hoddeson '15

Marvelwood Community Spotlight

We are always proud of the experiences of our pterodactyls. Our Community Spotlight features the stories of alumni and community members after their time at Marvelwood. To submit your story or nominate a Marvelwood graduate, email

Meredith Hoddeson’s ‘15 love for theatre was reignited during her time at Marvelwood, and led her into her successful career most recently at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene. Since graduating in 2015, Hoddeson earned a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase in arts management, and a minor in Jewish Studies. More recently, she has established a small business organizing, selling, and collecting Broadway Playbills and posters.

What was your Marvelwood experience like?

“I was in the class of 2015. I was at Marvelwood for my junior and senior years, and I loved it! I was very involved with theatre. I’m not a sports person, but I loved my theatre. The PAC [Performing Arts Center] was like my second dorm room. And I spent the majority of my time there doing homework, or practicing for college auditions, or rehearsing.

I’ve loved theatre since I was three! My first memory was my first Broadway show, and watching Andrea McArdle sing in Beauty and the Beast. It was a special day! At my previous school, I had lost interest in performing and the arts. I really fell back in love with it during my time at Marvelwood. If it weren’t for Marvelwood, I don’t know if I’d be working in theatre now! My favorite memory at Marvelwood was performing Avenue Q. Everyone was auditioning, and I was sitting in the back, the last person. I was so nervous to audition, I never spoke in the classroom or in large groups. I raised my hand and sang the song from South Pacific called “Honey Bun”. Because of my audition, I earned the role as the puppet Lucy. Getting to play Lucy was really a special moment for me. Through the confidence I gained in theatre, many of my friends might say that I’m always the one talking now!

Marvelwood offers support without students feeling dependent. Support is there if you need it, but it’s not pushed upon you, and you feel independent while still knowing that if you need to reach out for extra help, it’s always there for you. It was a safe place to reach out for extra help without being judged. I always felt accepted. There always was someone there who cared about you–friends, teachers or administrators. The support I received at Marvelwood helped build my confidence to work in the field I love.

It was so important during my time at Marvelwood to have someone who was so supportive of me through everything. My favorite faculty member was Mr. Paul Tines. We’d just sit in his office and talk about theatre. He was my biggest advocate and mentor. He also wrote one of my college recommendations. One moment I was tremendously proud of, was receiving complimentary seats, the best seats in the house, to Harmony, which was the first professional production I was involved with. To be able to share the show that I had worked on since 2019, and where I had a complete bio in the Playbill, with Mr. Tines there was just so amazing.

What have you accomplished since graduating from Marvelwood?

After graduation, I went to SUNY Purchase and studied arts management, and Jewish Studies.

I interned with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) in my junior year of college. After working for the organization for six months, the Executive Director said to me “You’ve been here long enough, we should probably start paying you.” They hired me as the Assistant Company Manager and Casting Assistant before I graduated. In 2019, NYTF was planning on debuting Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony: A New Musical, about the Comedian Harmonists. It was slated to go up in 2020, but unfortunately the pandemic began and it had to be rescheduled. When theaters opened back up safely in 2022, it was amazing to finally get to see the production. It was amazing to get to work with such a fantastic group of people and finally see the show!

Post-pandemic, I fell into the world of COVID safety supervision on top of the other two positions, so I also served as the COVID safety representative in several major productions; The Garden of Finzi Continis by Ricky Eaton Gordon, Michael Korie with NYC Opera and the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Harmony: A New Musical with Davenport Theatrical and the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, and most recently, Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, directed by Joel Grey and produced by NYTF. Following these shows, I moved my focus back into casting.

Recently I joined an amazing new group called Five Daughters Entertainment. The mission is to authentically represent and depict Judaism in theatre. This includes the area of casting, directing, Yiddish translation, and more. Its purpose is to give an authentic voice to the Jewish experience which is exciting for me. I specifically love being able to correctly represent my Jewish background, it’s a great feeling, I feel very strongly about showing accurate representation.

What would you say is your proudest accomplishment after graduation?

My proudest moment was coming through COVID and seeing Harmony up on stage after being with this show since 2019. Being the COVID safety manager, I got to sit in the room every day of rehearsals every day from day one of Harmony, getting to see our brilliant director, choreographer, and cast put on this impactful show. It’s a true story about the rise of the Nazi Party and this singing group, half of the group is Jewish, and half of them aren’t. The strain that the laws are putting on German Jews, the world is falling apart, and they still sung and were used as a political front. These were the top-selling artists in Europe, but you don’t hear them today because their records were destroyed. Truly horrible. We recorded a cast album, and that was such an exciting moment. I got to sit in the booth, for the final big number, and listen to it be recorded. It was a beautiful moment for me.

We got through that show and the others without a single canceled show due to COVID, I got through Omicron, without a single case for the Opera, and it was a ninety-six person testing pool.

Thanks for sharing your story with us! Would you share more about your small business?

During the Pandemic, I also started a small business. My family has collected Playbills for over ninety years, three generations. I bought 6000 playbills in the middle of the pandemic. I keep some for my collection, but the rest, I either trade or sell. So, it became a whole small business that kept me going through the pandemic.

My grandparents started collecting Playbills in 1932. I unfortunately never had the chance to meet them. I might have been about seven or eight when I first opened up the three giant packing boxes we had been storing that were filled to the brim with Playbills. It is a comprehensive history of my family’s theatre attendance, collected over three generations. Getting a chance to sift through all the playbills gave me a chance to get to know my grandparents better through their theatre experiences. Looking back, it makes me sad as there’s so much I wish I could ask them, yet sad I didn’t have the chance to. I might have asked them:“What was it like seeing Judy at the Palace, or Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun? Or Barbara Streisand in Funny girl?” I give Marvelwood credit for rekindling my love of theatre as I started collecting seriously around that same time. I’ve taken my family hobby and expanded it significantly.

In the summer of 2020, I expanded my business collection through an acquisition of 6,000 Playbills. After packing up two cars with thirty-six boxes of collectables, my business has expanded significantly and now boasts books, scripts, and window card posters in addition to Playbills. .

We kept a lot of the Playbills, the plan is to archive the collection now and put it in a database. My collection is close to fifteen hundred Playbills, and I have at least six thousand Playbills in my inventory. I have opening nights, and the full cast signed Playbills for sale. Feel free to contact me on instagram @playbills_and_lobcards! Creating this new business has not only allowed me to learn more about my grandparents, but it’s also been a fun side-hustle which has garnered me extra income. I work with my mother which allows us to bond while continuing my grandparent's legacy. It’s really cool to have this remarkable history, a vast collection of Playbills while continuing our family tradition of collecting.

One last family story that is a special one for me is that my mother’s last show she saw with her mother was The Most Happy Fella in 1994. More recently, I searched high and low and was able to find a poster for her illustrated by James McMullan from the show to give to my mother. It was a special gift with special meaning and it brought her to tears when I gave it to her. Collecting is something that keeps our family together, and it’s become a beautiful family heirloom tradition.

Thanks for sharing with us, Meredith! We can't wait to see what you'll do next!