Night of Ballyhoo—examines of Southern values

Alfred Uhry, best known for Driving Miss Daisy, looks at a segment of Southern society often overlooked in discussions of racism and bigotry. The awareness of blatant prejudice toward African-Americans is well documented, but anti-Semitism remains an issue ignored. The Last Night of Ballyhoo relates the story of an established family, the Freitags of Atlanta. Adolph (Gordon Odegard) runs a successful family business, assuming the responsibility for his sister Boo (Judy Blue), her daughter Lala (Deborah Goldstein), his sister-in-law Reba (Barbara Rosenbalm, and her daughter Sunny (Andrea E. Richardson). On the surface, their lives revolve around college sororities, the opening of Gone With the Wind, and the annual celebration of Ballyhoo, ending with the grand ball. More subtle issues come to the fore when Joe (Drew Rausch) arrives. Having grown up in a conservative Jewish community in Brooklyn, he is unaware of the subtle differences between the German and Russian Jews. The segregated club where the ball is held introduces him to anti-Semitism within the Jewish community. His love for Sunny is too fragile for their different values. In spite of the serious issues, The Last Night of Ballyhoo is filled with humor. The opening night audience responded to Lala’s desire to live “happily ever after” and her mother’s constant anxiety. My appreciation for the comedy began when David Gingerich as Peachy Weil arrived on stage. His red hair and clean-shaven face gives him the personae of a teen-ager. His lines and delivery are the best of the evening. Roy Hoglund’s elegant set represents the wealth of Atlanta in 1939. It’s all in the details. Alan Williams’ flounced creation for Lala’s big night came right out of Scarlett O’Hara’s closet. The cast, all professionals, performed capably under the direction of Steven Young. Driving Miss Daisy remains my favorite of Uhry’s work. The Last Night of Ballyhoo will give you pause for reflection and an evening of entertainment. Playing through Nov. 9, tickets are available at 964-6282.

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