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Small Town Family Drama To Unfold Onstage During "Crimes Of The Heart"

Anastasia Lennon

Kristin Whiting as Chick; Mark Strecker as Doc; and Josephine Wallace as Lenny. (Photo: Dane DuPuis)

On Friday, January 12, Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart will premiere at the Southampton Cultural Center's Levitas Center for the Arts. The 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning play features Bonnie Grice, Tina Realmuto, Mark Strecker, Deyo Trowbridge, Josephine Wallace, and Kristin Whiting, and is directed by Joan M. Lyons.

According to Lyons, this play has been a long time coming. "As a director, I tried for three seasons to obtain the rights to Crimes of the Heart and it was well worth the wait," she explained. "This is a play that requires a lot of study and breaking down not just of the characters and their relationships but of themes and symbolism and the cast has really embraced this process."

Crimes of the Heart tells the story of the three Magrath sisters of Mississippi, each of whom has her own "grave yet hilarious" history of hardship and relationship problems. The eldest sister is an unmarried thirty year-old, the middle sister is a singer who struggled (and failed) to make it in Hollywood, and the youngest was recently released on bail after shooting her husband. The three come together in their hometown to await the passing of their grandfather.

"The 'heart' in the title Crimes of the Heart can be obvious — all the things we associate with love, lust, hate, fear, jealously, heartbreak and longing. But it can also symbolize the heart of the home, or more accurately, the kitchen table where a great deal of the everyday wrangling of our lives takes place. Everything happens around this table, the crimes of the heart the Magrath sisters have committed by commission or omission in their lives finally spills out," shared Lyons.

The play first premiered in Louisville, Kentucky, and was presented on Broadway three years later in 1981. In 1986, it was adapted for the big screen. The film starring Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek earned three Academy Award nominations. Most recently, it was brought back to Broadway in 2008 with Kathleen Turner as director.

Crimes of the Heart will run until Sunday, January 28, and showtimes are as follows: Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $25 with student/group rates available. Special brunch/dinner and theatre packages are also being offered and can be viewed online.

Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, please call 631-287-4377 or visit www.scc-arts.org.

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