Kaye Ballard, whose Broadway credits include Carnival and Pirates of Penzance, will join the cast of Off Broadway's Over The River and Through The Woods April 6. She takes over for Joan Copeland as the food-obsessed Grandma. Best known for co-starring with Eve Arden on TV's "The Mothers-in-Law," Ballard got her Broadway start in The Golden Apple, after being discovered by the musical lunatic-genius, Spike Jones. More recently, Ballard starred opposite Eddie Bracken and Helen Gallagher in Paper Mill Playhouse's No, No, Nanette and alongside a host of stars in that theatre's celebrated revival of Follies.
Ballard joins other castmembers Allen Swift (the voice of vintage TV character Howdy Doody) as Grandpa Nunzio, Marie Lillo, Ralph Lucarelli, Heather Raffo and Paul Urcioli.
DiPietro's play concerns a grandson who gets advice from two sets of Italian-American grandparents. When writing the play, DiPietro drew on his relationships with his four grandparents.
Previews for Over the River and Through the Woods, directed by Joel Bishoff, began Sept. 18, 1998, with an opening of Oct. 5, 1998. DiPietro and Bishoff's earlier collaboration was I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, still running at the Westside Theatre.
Over the River celebrated its 100th performance Jan. 6. Hours after the cast party celebrating the milestone, co-producer James Hammerstein died of a heart attack, shocking the cast who had seen him so robust the night before. Jonathan Pollard, Bernie Kukoff and Tony Converse are the other co-producers.
Over the River performances play every day but Thursday at the John Houseman Theatre, 450 West 42nd St. Call (212) 239-6200 for ticket information.
-- By David Lefkowitz and Kenneth Jones