Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Last Night of Ballyhoo"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2001 by Robert Guenthner

"Last Night of Ballyhoo"

Reviewed by Robert Guenthner AKA oldgrump


Lanny Slusher...........Adolph
Janette Gregorian...........Boo
Allison Messina..............Lala
Patricia Luca.................Reba
Eve-Marie Kukulka.....Sunny
Charles Garabedian.........Joe
Daniel Fisher.............Peachy

This has to be the most non-jewish, Jewish family known to man. A diverse group who didn't even know their holy days. Hebrew and Yiddish were also unknown to them. The story takes place in Atlanta during the late 30s. Gone With The Wind is premiering and is the hot topic. The plight of the Jews in Europe is dismissed as a foreign problem. The Atlanta Jews have even segregated themselves according to whether their kinfolk were from the eastern or western side of the Elbe river. The other big deal in town is a big dance called Ballyhoo. Lala doesn't have a date for it, and Boo is going crazy trying to get her one. With the right kind of person of course.

Reba is a sister in law, and seems to be a stable woman who doesn't say much, but when she does it is worth listening to. Sunny is Rebas daughter, and goes to college up her in Wellesley. A charming young lady, the complete opposite of her cousin Lala. Sunny is not interested in Ballyhoo, but is invited to it by Joe. Joe is a new employee in the family business. He is orthodox, and is confused and annoyed by the families lack of feeling for the Jews in Europe. Sunny and Joe fall in love, even though he is from the other side of the river. Lala gets a date with Peachy, a friend from out of state. After Ballyhoo he tells all that he is going to marry Lala, and join the business. The thought of him just thrills Adolph. The look on his face and his double take when Peachy announces this is hilarious.

The use of period music during the set changes was super. The best was Sunny in a spotlight, with Cliff Edwards singing When You Wish Upon A Star, it was first rate. [ I must confess that I have a Cliff Edwards- Ukulele Ike CD ].

In the end the family discovers its lost heritage and celebrates in a traditional ceremony. The only draw back I had, was a comment given to me by an elderly German Jewish woman who sat next to me. The final scene confused her, she remarked that it wasn't right. I don't know, maybe she was wrong, then again maybe not.

I for one was disappointed by the size of the audience, it was small. I have yet to see a poor show done by The Community Players. Next year looks like a banner line up, my check is in the mail for a subscription.

Daniel with his orange hair played an irritating practical joker very well. He was believable and unlikable.

Charles did his New York Jew great. His good looking, rugged appearance was perfect for his part.

Janette was bossy and bitchy. I hope it was all acting.

Eve-Marie proved she is an actor. Her role called for a wide range of emotions, very well done.

Patricia was a wonderful rocking chair knitter. The more laid back of the two mothers.

Allison played a self centered air head. Spoiled and pampered, she has to grow up at the end; almost. She made us in the audience mad at her, excellent portrayal.

Lanny as the uncle had a likeable character to do, and he brought him to life.

"The Last Night of Ballyhoo" (till 24 June)
Jenks Junior High School, Division Street, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 726-6860

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide