Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Last Night of Ballyhoo"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"The Last Night of Ballyhoo"

by Alftred Uhry
Directed by Fred Robbins

Scenic Design by Maureen Bailey
Set Design by Matthew Rabkin
Lighting Design by Iain Bason
Costume Coordinator Jan MacPherson
Sound Design by Tim Rose
Fight Choreographer Robert Walsh
Props by Sandie McNeal
Production Managers Jo Graney & Connie McCarthy
Stage Manager Sandie McNeal

Lala Levy..............................Kris Reynoldsl
Reba Freitag...........................Elaine Lundin
Boo Levy................................Robyn Steriti
Adolph Freitag.........................Curt Fennell
Joe Farkas...........................Brian McNeany
Sunny Freitag.......................Rina Lipscomb
Peachy Weil......................Scott Giangrande

There is a special pleasure in sitting with an eager, engaged audience (at least some of whom have friends in the cast) watching an excellent production bring to life a play I'd never seen before. And my experience was enhanced even further last night because The Park Playhouse and the Burlington Players were completely new to me. The show was Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo", a densely layered play about prejudice --- the prejudice of old-resident Southern Jews for recent Eastern European immigrants before World War II. And a good time was had by all....

The family in Uhry's play is Jewish in name only --- they not only don't keep kosher they don't even sit Seder! --- but have had to take pride in their own clubs and galas because Atlanta freezes Jews out of society. The appearance of a New Yorker (Brian McNeany), fresh from the ghetto and proud, would upset this delicate assimilation. He'd be labelled one of "The Others" --- if he weren't young and handsome enough to capture the attention of two marriageable daughters: Kris Reynolds is the flighty romantic, hoping her exciting first sentence will blossom into a novel (and later a film, of course, since it's 1939 and "Gone With The Wind" just opened); Rina Lipscomb is the quiet one, studying sociology at Wellesley and thinking more than emoting.

But Uhry gives the cast even more complicated details to convey about this family. Curty Fennell is its settled, laconic, clear-eyed patriarch --- the bachelor head of the family mattress business, and his sister (Robyn Steriti) and sister-in-law (Elaine Lundin) are widowed mothers of the two girls --- battling rivals for attention. And the cast is completed by the ultimate "gentleman-caller" --- Scott Giangrande playing the ultimate snob.

This spread of vivid characters puts a spectrum of different attitudes toward pride and assimilation into brangle, and Director Fred Robbins was at great pains to see that every one became a real, believable person without letting the message of the play skew them into caricature.

Perhaps everyone was a shade exaggerated, but the play had "stars" only in the minds of audience partisans. This was a sincere ensemble creation, on a deep, lovingly decorated set. And Costume Coordinator Jan MacPherson saw to it that the period was expressed by such subtle details as the straight seams of all the ladies' stockings! In all aspects, a thoroughly pleasant experience...

Love,
===Anon.


"Last Night of Ballyhoo" (2 - 17 November)
BURLINGTON PLAYERS
Park Playhouse, Edgemere Avenue, BURLINGTON, MA
1 (781) 229-2649


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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