Corrections or additions?
This review by Joan Crespi was prepared for the January 3, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Review: `Last Night of Ballyhoo’
In this season where "A Christmas Carol" makes
its predictable appearances on stages and on TV, Off-Broadstreet
is presenting "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," Alfred Uhry’s
Tony Award-winning play of 1997 about an extended Jewish family
a house in Atlanta, Georgia, at Christmas time in 1939. Performances
continue weekends through January 20 in Hopewell.
This well-acted comedy takes place on the eve of the premiere of
with the Wind," which brought Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, and a
host of stars and socialites to Atlanta. Star-struck Lala Levy (Esther
H. Cohen), silly, flirtatious, dramatic, flouncing, empty-headed,
is going down to see them. It is Lala, played with verve, and her
desperate search for a date to Ballyhoo, that drives the play. Her
loud, pushy mother (Gerry Martin), equally worried, even telephones
"Ballyhoo" is the name of the ball in Atlanta for wealthy,
socially prominent Jews. The ball is said to be famous all over the
"It is a lot of dressed up Jews dancing around and wishing they
were Episcopalian," explains Lala’s cousin, the slim, beautiful,
and stylish Wellesley student Sunny Freitag (Janice Rowland) to Joe
Farkas (Danny Seigel), a New Yorker and a new salesman in Adolph’s
business. Sunny’s mother, the sensible Reba Freitag (Catherine Rowe),
also considers Ballyhoo and all its activity "the whole silly
But 1939 represents more than the opening of "Gone With the
It is also the year when, as the headline in "The Atlanta
which Adolph is reading later (give Uhry a few months: this is
proclaims "Hitler Invades Poland." The audience supplies the
rest. That rest makes Ballyhoo and all its ballyhoo seem frivolous
and silly, but like all true dramatic ironies, its characters don’t
"The Last Night of Ballyhoo," Uhry’s second play, opened on
Broadway in 1997. The playwright is best known for his first play
"Driving Miss Daisy," also set in Atlanta, where he grew up,
which won the Pulitzer Prize. As a movie, it went on to win Academy
Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), and Best
"The Last Night of Ballyhoo" is a romantic comedy in which
the two young women cousins each find a date for Ballyhoo (Sunny’s
date with Joe comes without her trying) and a man to love and marry.
Lala finally secures a date with Sylvan "Peachy" Weil
to "Wheel"), a brash, cocky, pint-sized redhead (wonderfully
played by John Rickett) who proposes marriage. Joe, a Russian Jew,
storms out of Ballyhoo at the restricted Standard Club, where he feels
unwelcome, abandoning Sunny, but he and Sunny reconcile and embrace.
The play is also a sociological study, pointing up the intra-Jewish
snobbery — elite, wealthy German Jews versus the proletarian
and East European Jews — soon to be subsumed in the war brewing
The five Freitags and Levys all live together because unmarried Adolph
Freitag (Rob Preston), gentle and wearied in this household of women,
supports them all. The household includes his widowed sister Boo Levy,
widowed sister-in-law Reba Freitag, and their daughters, Lala Levy
and Sunny Freitag. Sunny goes to Wellesley, reads Upton Sinclair,
and takes the train home for Christmas time. Her cousin Lala is a
University of Michigan drop-out who is crushed that she didn’t get
into Sigma Delta Tau sorority.
The world is changing. Southern plantation days and hoopskirts, such
as the ridiculous dress Lala wears to Ballyhoo (Adolph dubs her
O’Goldberg), are over. (Jim Parks has created the elaborate costume
that gets its own laugh.) "Ballyhoo" is, finally, a
play about religious snobbery as the elite Jews learn from the Russian
Jews something of their joint heritage and embrace it. Nowhere in
the play is it mentioned that this will be the "last night"
of Ballyhoo. But we know it will be.
— Joan Crespi
5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, 609-466-2766. $20.50 to $22.
continue Fridays through Sundays, to January 20.
all voice parts on Monday, January 8, and Monday, January 15, at the
Unitarian Church, Tices Road and Ryders Lane, East Brunswick. To
call Kim Anderson at 732-254-4311; or visit www.philomusic.org.
on Thursday and Friday, January 18 and 19, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
at Kelsey Theater. Five men and five women over 18 are being cast.
The show will be directed by Ken Ambs, choreographed by Diane Wargo,
with musical direction by Nancy Snyder. Auditions require a two-minute
comedic monologue and 16 bars of a song from any source with sheet
music. Performances are at Kelsey on March 30, 31, April 1, 6, 7,
and 8. Call for appointment at 609-730-9731.
"Jack and the Giant" on Saturday, January 6, at 10 a.m., and
on Sunday, January 7, at 2 p.m. Adults, teens, and children over six
are needed. All parts available except the Giant. Bring sheet music;
an accompanist will be provided. Performance dates are March 17 to
27. Auditions and performances will be held at First Presbyterian
Church of Matawan, Route 34 and Franklin Street. Call for information
the February 24 event at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Entrants
must be between 13 and 19. The prize package includes a $30,000
and an all-expense paid trip to the national competition in Orlando.
The format of the competition is 25 percent swimsuit; 25 percent
gown; 25 percent interview; and 25 percent fashion show. Applications
are being accepted by Stacey Cooper, currently Mrs. U.S. Globe. Call
for non-equity performers on Monday, February 26, in New Brunswick,
from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Over 25 New Jersey theaters are expected to
attend, including Paper Mill Playhouse, McCarter Theater, New Jersey
Shakespeare Festival, and George Street Playhouse. To enter the
send one copy of your picture with attached resume, a note indicating
if you plan to sing as part of your audition, indicate if you are
New Jersey resident or have access to housing in New Jersey, and
a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope. Mail entries postmarked
by Friday, January 19, to New Jersey Theater Group, Box 21, Florham
since 1792, is seeking volunteers to help guide visitors thorough
the historic capitol. Guides lead groups through the newly restored
rotunda, legislative chambers, Governor’s reception room, and
caucus room. No experience is necessary; volunteers receive complete
training to work on a convenient schedule. Call 609-633-2709.
everything from public relations to interpretation. Spanish-speaking
troupe leaders are especially needed. Call 609-683-0121.
state-approved procurement organization responsible for the recovery
of organs and tissue for transplant in New Jersey. For information
about becoming an organ donor or to join the New Jersey Organ and
Tissue Donor Registry, call 1-800-SHARE-NJ or visit the website at
for and help implement fundraising events, as well as PNJ conferences,
workshops, research, and office assistance. Call 609-392-6409.
for the spring semester on Tuesday, January 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at
Princeton High School Cafeteria. Over 100 courses range from Indian
vegetarian cooking to classical music, home maintenance, and 12
courses are offered.
Spring highlights include the Anne B. Shepherd Lecture Series which
features university scholars exploring the three great religious
that emerged from the ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean
basin. In a second new series, eminent art scholars will discuss
of Art Nouveau. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Princeton
High School and other locations, beginning Thursday, February 1.
is available at all area public libraries or call 609-683-1101.
instruction in the waltz, fox trot, swing, and Latin dancing. Classes
will be held in the Hightstown Fire House beginning Thursday, January
11 and running through Thursday, March 1. Classes begin at 7:30 p.m.
for beginners and at 8:30 p.m. for intermediate students. No partner
required. The session concludes with a ballroom dance social. Cost
is $65 per person; $110 per couple. Call 609-490-7550.
basic acting techniques, fundamental improvisation, and creative
skills for students enrolled in fourth to eighth grades. Using sound
and movement, students will collaborate to write and stage an original
story that they will perform in Shoestring ensemble style. Classes
will be held on Saturdays, beginning February 3 and running through
March 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers
University. The cost if $100 and the deadline for registration is
January 24. Call 732-932-9772.
martial arts training. The instructor, Belida Uckun, received a black
belt in Songahm Taekwondo, a second degree black belt in Combat
and a third degree black belt in American Karate (Kenop). Also, Kids
Karate class on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.; and a teen/adult Karate on
Mondays at 4:30 p.m. Classes are open to anyone regardless of size,
strength, or gender. Register at 609-530-0979.
medical training course recommended for outdoor professionals and
those who spend time in remote areas. The 72-hour "Wilderness
First Responder"course is sponsored by Princeton University
Action Program and will be held in Princeton from January 27 to
4. Lectures, full-scale rescue simulation, and debriefing are
For information, call 888-Wildmed or call Darcy at 609-258-6230.
announce "Nuestras Voces II," the Second Annual Playwriting
Competition created to develop plays and playwrights that deal with
subjects of importance to the Hispanic community, or which focus on
the Hispanic experience. First place winner receives $3,000 and a
fully staged production of the play. Second and third place winners
receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively; and the two runners up will
be awarded $500 each. All finalists will receive staged readings of
their work. Entries must be postmarked by Wednesday, February 15,
2001. All plays must be full-length, and cannot have received a full
Equity production; prior staged readings are acceptable. Scripts can
be written in Spanish or English; playwrights must be at least 18
years of age. Guidelines and applications are on the company’s website
at www.repertorio.org, or by call 212-889-2850. Submit materials to:
Repertorio Espanol, 138 East 27 Street, New York, 10016.
for the 2001 grants program in general operating support, special
projects, mini-grants, and prizes. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000
for non-profits or municipal or county government agencies. Call Mary
Murrin at 609-688-8168 or download guidelines at
for high school students. Singing groups of 4 to 12 members may enter
the contest and win prizes, trophies, and certificates for themselves
and their schools. Coaching in barbershop style singing is available
on request. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2001. For
information and applications, call Hugh Devine at 609-799-8170 or
contest for students in grades 6 through 11. Each grade level will
have three prize winners and the first place winner will receive a
$150 savings bond and plaque. Deadline for entries is January 15 for
essays that should be between 250 to 500 words; may be written or
typed; and will be judged on creativity, originality, neatness, and
the correct use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Call
or visit the website at www.state.nj.us/agriculture.
for an individual or organization that has played a significant role
in the prevention of child abuse on a local or state level. Award
recipients will be honored at the annual awards luncheon on April
20 at the Princeton Marriott. CAP also presents workshops for
parents, and teachers including "No More Bullies, No More
Call 856-582-7000 for application or workshop information. Deadline
for applications is January 19, 2001.
About 1,000 participants in the fifth annual Run With Aimee 5K and
One Mile Ramble will receive shirts at the event scheduled for Sunday,
April 1, at Montgomery High School. Entries must be submitted to Run
With Aimee, c/o Schilke Construction, 301 Valley Road, Hillsborough,
08844. Website: www.runwithaimee.org. Deadline for entries is February
Corrections or additions?
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