Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stage Door Theater: The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Reviews)

ballyhootThe Broward Stage Door Theatre Company opened its production of The Last Night of Ballyhoo on November 15, 2013
It is Christmas, 1939, and all of the Jewish families in Atlanta are only interested in "Ballyhoo", the big social event of the season. From the author of " Driving Miss Daisy", it is the winner of the Tony Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
Hugh M. Murphy directed a cast that included Greyssan Felipe, Larry Kent Bramble, Mike Edelman, Mary Sansone, Alex Salup, Janet Weakley, and Stephen Kaiser.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Newly opened at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, The Last Night of Ballyhoo is, to be sure, a different kind of holiday show. As staged by director Hugh M. Murphy and performed by a fine cast, the play is funny, insightful, unsettling and ultimately redemptive. It’s visually evocative of its period too, thanks in large part to Peter Lovello’s stylish costumes.
Uhry artfully blends family comedy and ongoing tensions with his more serious exploration of religious pride and prejudice. Salup’s aghast Joe holds a mirror up to Sansone’s Sunny, a smart and decent young woman who has nonetheless internalized her family’s biases and knows pitifully little about her faith’s rich traditions.
As the brash, outspoken Joe and the gently defensive Sunny, Salup and Sansone impressively anchor the production. Uhry supplies an unnecessary (perhaps imagined) religious coda, but the two actors supply all the resolution The Last Night of Ballyhoo needs.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
A solid cast molded by director Hugh M. Murphy adds Ballyhoo to the quietly growing list of solid productions that Stage Door has been accumulating in recent years such as its recent Twilight of the Golds.
…this factual depiction of prejudice promulgated by a people discriminated against themselves remains a stunning rebuke. It warns that the powerful human need to look down on somebody crosses all ethnic and religious boundaries.
Yet, Uhry and Murphy wrap this cautionary tale in a palatable family drama laced with copious humor and considerable compassion for frailty.
Stage Door veteran Miki Edelman just seems to get better with every role. Her Boo is not emotionally cold or intentionally nasty, but pragmatic dismissive of self-deceptive illusions. The social prejudice, the premature death of her ineffectual husband and the failings of her daughter have clearly stifled her joy of living. Edelman is especially effective portraying a woman who harshly scolds her daughter’s eccentricities and useless daydreams, but whose severity cannot conceal a desperate concern for the future of the girl she loves.
Also impressive is Larry Kent Bramble as the avuncular Adolph. He’s been playing a string of aging Jewish men for a while now, but this one has an unusually authentic feel to it.
Mary Sansone, who was a stunning standout in Stage Door’s A Shayna Maidel, once again creates a fully-fleshed out human being in Sunny from a part that is extremely difficult to keep from seeming too perfect.
The toughest part belongs to Greyssan Felipe portraying the flighty, high-strung odd duck Lala. It takes quite a while to realize Lala’s overheated fluttery and quirky affect is the character, not a shallow performance choice by Felipe. Eventually, it becomes clear that it’s probably a dead-on interpretation of Lala who is in thrall to the image of Scarlett O’Hara…
Dale King wrote for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Ballyhoo, written by Alfred Uhry (who also penned Driving Miss Daisy), has its humorous moments. And certainly, the crowd that packed Auditorium 2 at the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs a week after the show had opened did not go home disappointed. But this production is also filled with serious lessons about love, family, faith and respect. It can’t be characterized by a single word
The Tony Award winner for Best Play in 1997, Ballyhoo pulls together a stellar cast, many of them Broward Stage regulars. As Adolph, Bramble has honed the fatherly/grandfatherly portrayal to the hilt. His presence keeps the stage calm and the action smooth…
Edelman portrays the motherly role with ease... Her character of Boo is a traditional Southerner with staunch pride in her accomplished daughter.
Sansone… portrays Sunny as a quiet, introspective young woman, sure, smart and confident of her role in life. Lala comes to life through Felipe’s prowess... Portraying Lala without making the girl seem too spacy is a tough task, but Felipe handles it well.
Director Hugh M. Murphy gets a lot of mileage out of this well-oiled theatre troupe. The set design, by Stage Door Scenic, is detailed and pastel perfect. Costumes, the work of Peter Lovello, are beautifully crafted.
The Last Night of Ballyhoo plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through December 31, 2013.

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