Joanna Merlin (born July 15, 1931) is an American actress and casting director who has worked with Stephen Sondheim and starred in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. She has written two acting guides and is a faculty member of New York University's graduate acting program. In recent years, she has become known for her recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Judge Lena Petrovsky.
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Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
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Joanna Merlin is an actress and casting director who was born in Chicago, Illinois. She made her motion-picture debut in Cecil B. DeMille`s The Ten Commandments (1956). In 1961 she made her Broadway debut as a replacement performer in "A Far Country," a play about Sigmund Freud. Next on Broadway she created the role of Tzeitel in the original production of "Fiddler on the Roof," produced by Harold Prince. Beginning with the original production of "Company," Merlin served as casting director for a now-legendary string of Broadway musical plays on which Prince collaborated with composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, including "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Pacific Overtures," "Sweeney Todd," and "Merrily We Roll Along." Merlin`s other Broadway casting credits include the Prince-directed "On the Twentieth Century," "Evita," "A Doll`s Life," "Play Memory," and "End of the World." Since 1975, she has worked regularly as an actress in feature films, counting among her credits such notable motion pictures as Hester Street (1975); All That Jazz (1979); Fame (1980); The Killing Fields (1984); and Mystic Pizza (1988). Merlin appeared in several episodes of "Law & Order" (1990), and for the past four and one-half years she has appeared in the recurring role of Judge Lena Petrovsky on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999).
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