The Cleveland Play House will launch its 84th season with a production of Alfred Uhry's 1997 Tony Award-winning comedy,The Last Night of Ballyhoo. The show runs Sept. 21-Oct. 24 in the Bolton Theatre. Uhry was originally commissioned to do the work for the Olympics Arts Festival in Atlanta, where the play debuted in summer 1996.
The Tony Award-winning Best Play of 1997, Ballyhoo is set in 1939, in a "Gone With the Wind"-crazed Atlanta. The play deals with the socially prominent Freitag family as they prepare for an elite Jewish social event, the annual Ballyhoo ball.
Ballyhoo stars Darrie Lawrence, Mike Hartman and Mara Stephens, and is directed by Mark Nelson, who won an OBIE award in his role as Albert Einstein in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile and directed the Drama Dept.'s production of June Moon.
This new season marks the fifth for Cleveland Play House artistic director Peter Hackett.
"Uhry uses comedy to tackle the issue of discrimination," Nelson said. "The Freitags sit at the top of an internal class structure that existed among Southern Jews at the time. They are prejudiced against their own kind and purposely ignorant of their religious or ethnic heritage. Uhry explores how this self loathing fuels discrimination." The production team comprises set designer Bill Clarke, costume designer James Scott, lighting director Tracy Odishaw and sound designer Richard Ingraham.
Playwright Uhry is the only playwright to win the big three -- an Oscar, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize. In 1988, Uhry won both the Oscar for Best Screenplay and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Driving Miss Daisy. His 1997 Tony Award for Best Play (Ballyhoo) was preceded by 23 years by his earlier Tony nomination for The Robber Bridegroom. Uhry also wrote the libretto for the recent Broadway musical, Parade. The Cleveland Play House Art Gallery will feature other special events and discussion. Replicas of 1939 movie posters (on display Sept. 21-Oct. 24) will be on loan from David Graveen Photography of Glastonbury, Conn. The Play House's young professionals group, CREW, will be holding its third annual costume party Oct. 23 at 7 PM, following the festivities. The Ballyhoo performance, which held will that night will be followed by parties the lobby. CREW memberships are available for $52 and $125 through Oct. 16. On Oct. 7 there will be a pre-curtain dialogue, "The Cultural Heritage of Southern Jews" at the Studio One Theatre from 7:15 7:45 PM. Admission to the discussion is free.
For information call the Cleveland Play House ticket office at (216) 795 7000.