After critics hailed Dana Ivey for her Tony-calibre performance in Christopher Durang's comedy Sex and Longing, speculation began immediately on what she'd do next. The answer came Feb. 27, 1997 when she opened in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, a comedy/drama by Alfred Uhry (Pulitzer winner for Driving Miss Daisy).
The show now celebrates its first birthday at the Helen Hayes Theatre -- and it's been an awards-filled year. In June, Uhry's play won a Best Play Tony and picked up three other Tony nominations. More recently, co-producer Liz Oliver won the Robert Whitehead Producing Award. Ballyhoo recently gave its 400th performance.
The current cast features Kelly Bishop, Joanne Camp, Christopher Gartin, Michael Goetz, Ilana Levine, Todd Weeks and Amy Wilson.
Originally commissioned for the Olympics Arts Festival in Atlanta, where the play debuted in summer 1996, Ballyhoo is set in that state, where prejudice against (and among) Southern Jews arises during plans for the German-Jewish community's annual Ballyhoo ball. It's also the time of the release of the film classic, Gone With The Wind, which takes place in Atlanta and deals with the Civil War and Reconstruction era. Ballyhoo centers on first cousins Lala Levy and Sunny Freitag, thrilled as they prepare for the social event of the season for the cream of Southern Jewish society.
John Lee Beatty's opulent set is in the tradition of his work for The Heiress and A Delicate Balance, as most of the play takes place in the holiday-decorated living room. Oliver, Nina Keneally and Jane Harmon are co-producers of Ballyhoo, which is directed by Ron Lagomarsino. John Lee Beatty designed the sets, Jane Greenwood the costumes and Kenneth Posner the lighting. Incidental music is by Robert Waldman.
Tickets (prev $45, reg $50-$55) can be ordered by calling (212) 307 4100.