Crimes of the Heart Coming to Woods Theatre

Beth Henley’s Play Will Run November 9 to 20

Crimes of the HeartIf you ever took John Burke’s, Associate Professor and Director of theatre arts, acting class, you probably heard a speech about happiness. “You have a right to be happy and the hardest time to remember that is when you’re sad,” Burke said.

So it should not come as much of a surprise that one of the main themes of this year’s play, Crimes of the Heart, is the search for happiness.

Burke is directing this play by Beth Henley about three sisters who come back together after some time apart to deal with their sick grandfather, the man who raised them.

They’ve all had their fair share of problems. They grew up with an abusive father and their mother committed suicide when they were children, so it isn’t surprising that the three women don’t really have perfect lives.

Babe, the youngest, shot her husband. Meg, the middle child, moved out to Hollywood but failed to become a star, while Lenny, the oldest, didn’t do much of anything at all. She was the one to stay at home and take care of their grandfather. 

Even though, the dramatic comedy takes place in the 1970’s in Mississippi, you don’t think that will stop one from relating to the play.

Michael Rosas, who will play Barnette, said, “Although this show is set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, a completely different world from North Eastern USA, this show brings up topics that most could relate to. The main question that this show poses to the audience, in my opinion, is should your past dictate your present? Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but what if they were all exposed?”

Sarah Clemency, one of the actresses to play Lenny, said that anyone can relate to the show. “I think that any student with siblings or who is close with their family will definitely be able to relate to this play. I’m not saying it’s just about those two things, but those are a big part. It really touches on how your family is always there for you,” Clemency said.

Since Crimes of the Heart was double cast, Allie Miller will take on the role of Lenny in the other cast.

While having two casts for one show might seem a little odd, Burke has done this previously with much success.

The majority of the theatre department is made up of women, which is part of the reason Burke chose a play with four substantial female parts. With double casting he was able to have twice as many talented actors.

Henry Siebecker is the only actor in both casts as the role of Doc, but he feels that having two casts is good. “Having both casts is really helpful in an educational environment because if both people who are the same character come together, they can learn so much more about character development and can have someone to bounce ideas off of or even watch from the outside to see what works and what doesn’t in a non critical way,” Siebecker said.

Clemency echoed Siebecker’s feelings. “Since I’ve been at Monmouth this is the first time that we have two casts for a show, so it was a surprise when the director told us there were two casts. It is great that more people are able to be involved in the show though. It also is helpful because we actually get to see the show at rehearsals, which definitely helps with learning lines and blocking,” the actress said.

Crimes of the Heart has its characters examining their lives, and Burke hopes that the actors will also take something away from that.

“By doing a play like this, if the actors submerge themselves in that, they can learn how to deal with their own life,” the director said.

The casts include Miller and Clemency as Lenny McGrath, Liz Anderson and Taylor Bogan as Meg McGrath, Alex Appolonia and Brooke McCarthy as Babe, Lauren Lambert and Brittany LeBoeuf as Chick, Siebecker as Doc, along with  Rosas and Brandon Wiener as Barnette.

Crimes of the Heart will be performed at Lauren K. Woods Theatre from November 9 through November 20.

Tickets are available at the box office in the MAC or online.

PHOTO COURTESY of sumpterplayer.org