Updated: Mar 8, 2019
★★★★½ - Delicious
“The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” Alfred Uhry's 1997 Tony Award-winning play, takes a solid look at anti-semitism in the South. The action is centered around the Atlanta Jewish community's annual Ballyhoo Ball (a Jewish cotillion) during the excitement surrounding the 1939 premiere of “Gone with the Wind” and the breaking out of World War II in Europe.
Directed by Rob Kastil for Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT), the production wisely mines the humor and slips in the right amount of poignancy in all the right places. This is really an ensemble piece and Kastil has treated it as such with quite a capable cast. After an initial stumbling over a couple of missed lines and despite stepping on laughs, this cast grabs the reins and gallops along without missing a beat.
Scene breaks are numerous but the pacing never suffers because of them, thanks to an excellent Running Crew. And, thanks to Mike Olsen’s very appropriate sound design, the music at first retains the moment then transitions us smoothly into the next scene.
Marty Weaver delivers a steady Adolph Freitag, the patriarch of the clan. Weaver represents the calming influence to each imagined catastrophe in a houseful of women worried about invitations to the Ballyhoo Ball and marriage proposals from the right men. He’s always in the moment and his timing is on point.
Act Two introduces us to Peachy Weil played with obnoxious delight by Michael Blair. His antics, both physical and vocal, bring laughter even with a running gag because Blair so easily and convincingly slips from one emotion to another.
Throughout, Shane Cullum, Dani Andino, and Mary Claire Owen keep pace and deliver perfect support. Cullum takes the brash Joe Farkas and grounds him; Andino plays Reba Freitag with great droll humor; and Owen brings needed understated softness to the educated Sunny Freitag.
The widowed Boo Levy is a whirlwind of activity and has more to say than any situation requires. Teresa Fullerton dives into the character with her usual verve. She’s a dervish of activity. In those moments she isn’t directly involved, Fullerton stays facially in the scene but, instead of some worried fidgeting or hand-wringing, her hands plunge stiff-armed to her sides.
As her daughter, Lala Levy, Stephanie McCue lands some good lines with Scarlet O’Hara over-the-top drama to good effect. McCue has the Southern Belle antics down pat almost as if she’s channeling Vivian Leigh. At times it gets to be a bit too much but she delivers the final line of Act 1 with sheer perfection.
Production values are all top-notch. The set, designed by Ron Lindblom, is a glorious depiction of a large Atlanta home on Haversham Road (a real Atlanta street). Ginny Adams’ lighting genuinely bathes the set; Stephanie Daniels’ costumes are on point for the period and Lala’s Ballyhoo gown is a showstopper.
If you’re looking for something heartwarming that isn’t yet another version of “A Christmas Carol,” if you want some good laughs instead of schmaltz, look no further than LVLT’s “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.”
What: The Last Night of Ballyhoo
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through December 16
2 p.m. Saturday, December 8
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $22 - $25 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Rob Kastil; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Sound Design: Mike Olsen; Costume Design: Stephanie Daniels; Wig Design: Betty Sullivan-Cleary; Stage Managers: Brie Marielle, Jeremy Williams; Running Crew: Audrey Bernal, Chris Davies, Michael Ferruzza, Ernest Medina, John Pattison