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Commonweal Theatre Company presents The Last Night of Ballyhoo

Fri, Nov 1st, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Arts & Culture

Ana Hagedorn and Gary Danciu in The Last Night of Ballyhoo

LANESBORO, Minn. — The Commonweal Theatre Company celebrates the holiday season with a charming and romantic comedy about a family living in Atlanta in 1939. Gone with the Wind is having its premiere, World War II is looming, but Atlanta’s Jewish elite are much more concerned with Christmas and who is going to Ballyhoo, the holiday dance and social event of the season! The play is a funny and touching story of faith and family, a winner of the 1997 Tony Award for Best Play and written by the author of Driving Miss Daisy.

The production is directed by Commonweal Resident Ensemble member Adrienne Sweeney, whose previous directing credit with the Commonweal is for Parfumerie in 2011. “The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” says Sweeney, “addresses a deep-seated need in most of us to be accepted, to fit in. We watch these lovely, funny, very real people struggle with their identities and their place in the world to different degrees. The most rewarding element for me is how they achieve this through their affection for and loyalty to each other. They are not a perfect family, but their sincere love for each other propels them towards a greater understanding and acceptance of who they are.”

The cast features Commonweal Resident Artists Hal Cropp, Catherine Glynn, and Megan K. Pence; Annual Company Members Gary Danciu and Ana Hagedorn; and introduces Julia Massoti along with Mike Swan, two members of the 2013/14 Apprentice Company.

Commonweal Executive Director Hal Cropp plays the role of the head of the Freitag family. “I am thrilled,” says Cropp, “that I get to share with our audiences a deep connection that I have with my own culture. To get to re-visit my youth and my own family experiences as a Jew growing up in the minority in a small city in western New York State, I easily identify with the Freitags’ dilemma of wanting to fit in and simultaneously hang on to the traditions and culture that made my formative years so rich.”

This production of The Last Night of Ballyhoo will be stage managed by Bailey Otto, who leads a design team consisting of Kit Mayer (sets), Janis Martin (costumes), Stela Burdt (sound), Paul Epton (lights), and Carla Joseph (props). Commonweal Apprentice Company Member Philip Muehe serves as Assistant Director. There will be discounted preview performances on November 15, 16, 21, and 22 at 7:30 p.m., and a discounted matinee on November 17 at 1:30 p.m. Each preview performance is followed by a post-performance discussion with the director. The Last Night of Ballyhoo officially opens the evening of Saturday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m and is followed by an opening night reception in the Commonweal Events Hall. On Thursday, November 21, the Commonweal Theatre will offer its Pay-it-Forward Night performance. All residents and employees with Fillmore and Houston County addresses receive free admission to the show, but seats fill up fast so reservations are strongly recommended.

From November 14 through December 21, Commonweal will be collecting new art supplies and art kits to be gifted and delivered in time for the holidays to kids at Mayo Clinic’s Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital. Each patron who donates an item will receive $5 off their regular adult ticket price. Commonweal also asks attendees of the Free County Night to “pay-it-forward” by bringing an art supply to donate to the Children’s Hospital patients.

The Last Night of Ballyhoo is underwritten by Papasea Design, with support from F&M Community Bank and the Target Corporation for special weekday matinee performances for school groups at only $5 per person, which include a study guide and pre-show workshop with the actors. Funding for Commonweal Theatre’s programming is provided in part by private funders, foundation grants, and made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. For more details, including information about schedules, tickets, and other Commonweal programs, visit www.commonwealtheatre.org or call the Box Office at 1-800-657-7025.

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