“Crimes of the Heart” presents nuanced humor and heartbreak

As the last few chords of Tayna Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” play, the lights go down, and we are brought to a quaint, aged home of the Magrath sisters in Hazelhurst, Mississippi where the sisters have reunited with the illness of their grandfather, each sister with her own emotional baggage to carry. 

Starting Thursday Oct. 10, the Concordia theater department will perform “Crimes of the Heart,” the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Beth Henley. The play tells the story of Lenny, Meg and Rebecca, who is also known as Babe. Each sister is facing a serious, yet sometimes humorous problems, bringing the audience along on a journey of both laughter and heartache. The show will be performed four times and runs through Oct 13. 

Despite having a number of weeks to rehearse, director Christian Boy is pleased with the progress the cast has made. 

“They didn’t have a whole lot of time to memorize their lines, only about two and a half weeks. It was a good challenge for these actors,” Boy said.

Along with learning their lines, the cast also had to perfect a southern accent. “Plays are always language based. The actors really need to be aware of how their sentence is being delivered,” Boy continued. 

Andrew Bates, who plays the overeager, young lawyer in the show is also pleased with the progress he and his castmates have made in recent weeks.

“We had some really good rehearsals, and then some that didn’t go so well. Those weaker rehearsals motivated us to work harder on perfecting it and we finally feel that we are back on track and ready to perform,” he said. 

Despite the short rehearsal time, Madeline Whittey, who plays the wild, middle child Meg is excited to showcase her character. 

“Meg is fun. I feel that she has a great deal of depth to her, which can help show why she acts the way that she does,” Whittey said. “She has experienced a lot of sadness in her life and finds it easier to run away from her problems.” 

Along with the actors on stage, the crew behind the stage is also hard at work. Stage manager Maddie Garrett is making sure that everything is running smoothly and in a timely manner. 

“As stage manager, one of my jobs is to maintain the artistic integrity of the play. There are a lot of aspects that go into a performance that the audience doesn’t always realize,” Garrett said. 

Garret also noted the difference between doing a play on the main stage compared to in the Lab Theater. 

“The Lab Theater is smaller, and our actors don’t use microphones. This creates less of a spectacle and really brings the audience into the show and its plot. Our actors also work with many props during the show. They are almost always doing something. And I’m excited to show the unique qualities this show has to offer.”

Scenic designer Nick Schons wanted to showcase the melancholiness of the show within the set design. 

“There is a great deal of history that I wanted portrayed on set. The set is the house the sisters grew up in, it is obviously outdated. It is almost like we are looking into a time capsule,” Schons said. 

The play hits the theme of family and loyalty. Each sister has been on a different path in life but comes to realize that the most important thing in life is each other. 

“Crimes of the Heart” runs from October 10-13. Shows start at 8PM Thursday-Friday, and 2PM Saturday and Sunday, in the Lab Theater. Doors will open fifteen minutes prior to the show’s beginning. 

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