WESTERLY — Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," the second play in the playwright's "Atlanta Trilogy," opens this week at the Granite Theatre for a two-week run. The play, a romantic comedy which received the Tony Award for Best Play when it was produced in 1997, was commissioned for Atlanta's Cultural Olympiad which coincided with the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Set in Atlanta in December of 1939, the play, which centers around an upper middle class Jewish family, "is about Jews and their relationship with their religion and each other," wrote Aileen Jacobson in a 2016 review of the play for the New York Times.
In a posh house on Atlanta's Habersham Road, the well-to-do members of the Levy-Freitag family, owners of the Dixie Bedding Company, so highly assimilated they have a Christmas tree in the front parlor, are looking forward to Ballyhoo, a lavish cotillion ball sponsored by their restrictive country club. Especially concerned is Beulah Levy who is determined to have her daughter, Lala, attend Ballyhoo, believing it will be Lala's last chance to find a socially acceptable husband. But Lala encounters competition for the eligible males when her cousin comes home for the holidays. Adolph's employee Joe Farkas is an attractive eligible bachelor and an Eastern Europe Jew, familiar with prejudice but unable to fathom its existence within his own religious community.
His presence prompts college student Sunny to examine intra-ethnic bias, her Jewish identity (or lack thereof), and the beliefs with which she has been raised. The family gets pulled apart and then mended together with plenty of comedy, romance and revelations along the way.
Out in the world meanwhile, Hitler has recently conquered Poland, "Gone with the Wind" is about to premiere.
The theater's artistic director David Jepson will direct the play that features Mary Sue Frishman as Boo Levy; Christine Reynolds as Reba Freitag; Sarah Reed as Lala Levy; Ali Mitchell as Sunny Freitag; Michael Jepson as Adolph Freirag; Hassan DeMartino as Joe Farkas and Tom Steenburg as Peachy Weil.
— Nancy Burns-Fusaro