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. Now comes the answer: Ivey opens Feb. 27 as the star of The Last Night of Ballyhoo, a new comedy/drama by Alfred Uhry (Pulitzer winner for Driving Miss Daisy).
Originally commissioned for the Olympics Arts Festival in Atlanta, where the play debuted in summer 1996, Ballyhoo is now in previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre for a Feb. 27 opening.
Also appearing in the drama are Arija Bareikis, Terry Beaver, Jessica Hecht, Stephen Largay, Paul Rudd and Celia Weston. The latter recently appeared on Broadway in Summer And Smoke; Hecht is best known as Ross' ex-wife's lesbian life-partner on TV's "Friends."
Ivey originated the role of Miss Daisy in that play when it debuted Off Broadway. Miss Daisy's director, Ron Lagomarsino, also will stage Ballyhoo.
The play is set in Atlanta, 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.
Harmon co-produced Driving Miss Daisy with Nina Keneally, who also will co-produce Ballyhoo with Liz Oliver. John Lee Beatty will design sets, with costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Kenneth Posner and incidental music by Robert Waldman.
Tickets (prev $45, reg $50-$55) can be ordered by calling (212) 307-4100.