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INTERVIEW: Amanda Kristin Nichols On "The Last Night Of Ballyhoo" At Bay Street Theater

Sydney A. Braat

The cast of The Last Night of Ballyhoo: John Hickok, Danel Abeles, Erin Neufer, Ellen Harvey, Ari Brand, Amanda Kristin Nichols, and Dori Legg. (Photo: Barry Gordin)

Bay Street Theater will continue its Mainstage Season Programming with The Last Night of Ballyhoo, the Tony Award-winning play by Alfred Uhry. Will Pomerantz is directing this must-see production that will be at the Sag Harbor-based theater from Tuesday, June 28th through Sunday, July 24th.

The show takes place in Atlanta, Georgia in 1939, and opens with the premiere of Gone with the Wind. Everyone is enjoying themselves at the party of the year, yet everything is about to change. The Freitag family is looking forward to Ballyhoo, the lavish German Jewish country club ball. Lala and Sunny, the Freitas daughters, are most excited for the opportunity to go to this party. Their lives are turned upside down when their uncle brings his new employee, a handsome Eastern European bachelor from Brooklyn. From that point forward, everyone must confront their own beliefs, prejudices, and desires. The Freitag family must look at their lives through new lenses, as their lives are quickly filled with comedy, romance, and surprising revelations. It's a story about new realizations and personal development.

The undoubtedly talented cast includes Daniel Abeles as Peachy Weil, Ari Brand as Joe Farkas, Ellen Harvey as Boo Levy, John Hickok as Adolph Freitag, Amanda Kristin Nichols as Sunny Freitag, Dori Legg as Reba Freitag, and Erin Neufer as Lala Levy.

We caught up with the brilliant Amanda Kristin Nichols about The Last Night of Ballyhoo, her Hamptons connection, and more.

Amanda Kristin Nichols plays Sunny in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. (Courtesy Photo)

What have you enjoyed most about being in the show?

AKN: The cast - the people we're working with at the minute are so extremely talented and wonderful. That's really an incredible thing to be a part of. Also, the subject matter of Jewish identity - it's complex, poignant, and profound. I really enjoyed exploring that.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

AKN: To be honest, I keep thinking of my parents in the audience! I know they're going to be there for opening night and I can't stop thinking about that. I want to make them proud. I think for a lot of actors it's just about trust. I get the opportunity to live out this wonderful story of love and identity. So, it's allowing myself to fully enter into that, which is the most challenging part.

What else have you learned from being a part of this show? What is your biggest take away that you will remember 20 years from now?

AKN: First of all, I've gotta say just working at Bay Street. I spent summers in the Hamptons growing up, staying with my aunt and seeing theatre there, so it's this big dream come true to be on that stage. That's something I will always remember. Working with Will [Pomerantz] and the actors, again it's incredible; the talent and integrity of every single person in the cast. In 20 years from now, that will still be at the forefront of my mind. Also, Jewish identity - my stepfather is Jewish and my relationship with him has been blossoming and blooming since I was 13-years-old. It [the show] is an incredible education in spirituality and my heart will always carry that from this show. Just exploring Judaism and what it is to be Jewish, especially in a time and place where you were judged as less than for believing what you believe or being born Jewish. I've learned so much and I love these people and having the opportunity to perform at Bay Street is a dream come true.

Is there any other reason audiences should be excited to come see the show?

AKN: Absolutely! I think there's a lot of humor to it; I think there are wonderful moments in the play. We all put a lot of heart into it and I really hope people respond on a human level to it, on a heartfelt level.

Tickets begin at $25.

Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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