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BWW Interview: Aliza Bardfield And Michael Hosler of THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO at Oyster Mill Playhouse

BWW Interview: Aliza Bardfield And Michael Hosler of THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO at Oyster Mill Playhouse Oyster Mill Playhouse is working diligently to bring you their next production, The Last Night Of Ballyhoo. Set to debut on April 26th, this play transports us back to December of 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Freitag family is preparing for the annual Ballyhoo ball. As if the excitement surrounding the ball isn't enough, this year's celebration happens to coincide with the premiere of Gone with the Wind. Viewers follow this upper class Jewish family through a series of unexpected twists and turns as they explore many things, including their heritage and who they really are. This show has plenty of comedy, romance, and drama to keep you enthralled all the way through. In anticipation of this project, Broadway World is honored to have had a chance to sit down with Aliza Bardfield and Michael Hosler, the duo directing the show, to get a sneak peek of what makes this a must-see experience for theatre lovers.

Broadway World: It is rare to see two people directing a production together. What is your favorite part about working together so closely on this production?

Aliza: One of my favorite things about working with Michael is watching him in action. He has a lot of great ideas and is very creative. Michael has had many other roles in the production process, but the role of Director allows him to add even more to to the creation of the show.

Michael: In the past, I have worked on productions as a Stage Manager and an Assistant Director. As I spent time in these positions, I realized that I wanted to be more vocal in the direction of the projects I was a part of. I didn't want to feel like I was overstepping as I sometimes have before. I'm excited to have more of a voice in this production and to be sharing that role with someone who I work incredibly well with. Aliza and I have been together for a long time and make a great team.

Broadway World: There are seven characters in this story. Do you have a favorite character or one you resonate with more than the others?

Aliza: There are a couple of characters that really resonate with me. One is Lala Levy, who is socially awkward. She doesn't quite fit in and definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. A true character, Lala is quite quirky and has a lot of layers to her. She has a tendency to put up walls to keep herself protected. I can also relate to Joe Farkas with his Jewish heritage and upbringing. Though these two characters have opposing personalities, I resonate strongly with them both. All of the characters in this show are very real and complex.

Michael: Each character is interesting in his or her own way. You need all of them to unfold this story, because they are all equally important. Boo Levy is definitely a fascinating woman. She is excluded from the family business and carries a lot of frustration with her. Then there is Sunny Freitag, who seems sweet upon first glance. The actress portraying her has brought fascinating new levels and a lot of spice to this character. All of these personalities are fantastic.

Broadway World: Every story has lessons to teach. What is one lesson that you hope viewers will consider when watching this show?

Aliza: This story reminds us that it is so important to embrace who and what you are. If you try to run from who you are, you will inevitably meet with failure one way or another. Those around you will notice if you aren't being genuine, so just be yourself.

Michael: The characters in this story are somewhat removed from their Jewish heritage. Joe manages to reawaken the roots of that heritage through his connection with Sunny. As a story that focuses heavily on relationships, we are reminded of the importance of family, the complexity of family dynamics, and loving each other as we truly are. Self exploration is also a big theme found throughout this story.

Broadway World: The time period of this play is set in December of 1939. What makes it relevant to today's audiences? What will viewers be able to connect to?

Aliza: I think that viewers will be able to easily relate to the story as a whole, as well as with the individual characters. Lala has a tendency to escape to these fantasy worlds, which we have all done at some point. Family dynamics are always relevant as well and are something everyone has dealt with in one way or another. There is also Lala's obsession with Gone with the Wind, which was huge during the time the play is set in. Anyone who has ever been into a fandom of any kind can relate to that kind of passion. And there is the idea that the reality of something that you have been anticipating is never quite how you pictured it, which is a unique experience.

Michael: There are themes in this story that are timeless, like the universal idea of family dynamics. The relationships explored here are so real and rich. It is also cool to see that we still consider a classic film like Gone with the Wind relevant to our culture and still appreciate it in modern times.

Broadway World: What makes your version of "The Last Night Of Ballyhoo" unique from previous productions?

Aliza: I have never actually seen another version of this show. Research didn't bring up much of anything in the way of set design, so we were basically going in blind. Two directors bringing in their own perspectives definitely made for a unique collaboration experience. My New York Judaic heritage helped me immensely in relating to the story and the characters. It has also been wonderful to work beside someone who understands and appreciates the various elements of the production as much as I do. The rich heritage, the pop culture and frenzy surrounding Gone with the Wind... all of those things are incredibly important to this show.

Michael: As the Set Designer, I didn't have a whole lot to go on. The description of the set in the script was very vague, and there was nothing helpful throughout the dialogue either. I wound up giving myself a lot of freedom with the set design because of this. We have also made unique decisions with our costumes, including the choice not to design any of the dresses after Scarlett O'Hara's famous BBQ dress.

Broadway World: Is there anything else you would like viewers to know before they come to see this show?

Aliza: This show is a lot of fun. It definitely has its dramatic moments, but it is also hilarious and feels very real. It's like watching your favorite episode of a sitcom... there is a lot of comedy with some very special moments intertwined.

Michael: This show reminds me a lot of The Golden Girls or Designing Women. It's a very rich story that will leave you feeling both touched and amused. You'll also get a glimpse into what European Jews were going through during that time period, which is very thought-provoking. This is a timeless and fascinating journey into the depths of human nature.

If you are now as excited to see this show as I am, visit Oyster Mill's website and get your tickets now at www.oystermill.com/wp/ The show opens on April 26th and runs through May 12th. See you at the ball!


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