Alfred Uhry’s “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” Is a Tony Award®-Winning Romantic Comedy

From left: Jeff Cheek as Adolph, Debra Zumbach Grannan as Boo, Izzy Burger as Lala, and Donna Rossi-Youngblood as Reba (photo by Stuart Wagner)
From left: Jeff Cheek as Adolph, Debra Zumbach Grannan as Boo, Izzy Burger as Lala, and Donna Rossi-Youngblood as Reba (photo by Stuart Wagner)

Raleigh Little Theatre will present American Jewish dramatis and screenwriter Alfred Uhry’s prize-winning romantic comedy, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, which won the 1997 Tony Award® for Best Play, on April 8-10, 14-17, and 21-24 on its Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage.

Long-time RLT artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons will direct the show, and double as sound designer for The Last Night of Ballyhoo. The rest of the RLT creative team for the show includes associate director Bunny Safron, technical director Jim Zervas, scenic designer Elizabeth Newton, lighting designer Michael E. Baggesi, costume and wig designer Vicki Olson, properties manager Pat Berry, sound engineer Todd Houseknecht, and stage managers Dan Eckert and Timothy E. Locklear.

According to Dramatists Play Service, Inc.:

The Last Night of Ballyhoo takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, in December of 1939. Gone with the Wind is having its world premiere, and Hitler is invading Poland, but Atlanta’s elitist German Jews are much more concerned with who is going to Ballyhoo, the social event of the season.

“Especially concerned is the Freitag family: bachelor Adolph [Jeff Cheek], his widowed sister, Beulah (Boo) Levy [Debra Zumbach Grannan], and their also widowed sister-in-law, Reba [Donna Rossi-Youngblood]. Boo is determined to have her dreamy, unpopular daughter, Lala [Izzy Burger], attend Ballyhoo, believing it will be Lala’s last chance to find a socially acceptable husband.

“Adolph brings his new assistant, Joe Farkas [Erich Reinhard], home for dinner. Joe is Brooklyn born and bred, and furthermore is of Eastern European heritage — several social rungs below the Freitags, in Beulah’s opinion. Lala, however, is charmed by Joe and she hints broadly about being taken to Ballyhoo, but he turns her down. This enrages Boo, and matters get worse when Joe falls for Lala’s cousin, Reba’s daughter, Sunny [Kate P. Bowra], home from Wellesley for Christmas vacation.

“Will Boo succeed in snaring Peachy Weil [Brian Jackson Gill], a member of one of the finest Jewish families in the South? Will Sunny and Joe avoid the land mines of prejudice that stand in their way? Will Lala ever get to Ballyhoo? The family gets pulled apart and then mended together with plenty of comedy, romance and revelations along the way. Events take several unexpected turns as the characters face where they come from and are forced to deal with who they really are.”

In reviewing previous productions of The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Variety wrote, “Everything falls into place in this … wonderfully crafted script.” The New York Post added, “Alfred Uhry’s charming Broadway comedy (sort of) The Last Night of Ballyhoo … has a subtext and undertow of thought. It is a delightful comedy freighted with an uncomfortable message.” And the Los Angeles Times declared, “Alfred Uhry’s achingly beautiful play The Last Night of Ballyhoo … is … luminous and powerful. It will most likely find a place in the American canon alongside Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy [1987]…. Uhry draws his characters with so fine a pen, on such a solid foundation, that the story takes on the sharp poignancy of life.”

Raleigh Little Theatre presents THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO at 8 p.m. April 8 and 9, 3 p.m. April 10, 8 p.m. April 14-16 and 21-23, and 3 p.m. April 17 and 24 in the Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $20 ($16 students and seniors 62+), except all tickets $12 on April 10th.

BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/10-11/ballyhoo.html.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/.

DIRECTIONS: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/map-directions.html.

PARKING: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/parking.html.

NOTE 1: There will be a wine-and-cheese meet-the-cast reception in the main stage lobby after the opening-night performance on April 8th.

NOTE 2: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices are available for all shows.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=2480 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Night_of_Ballyhoo (Wikipedia).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Uhry (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).