Your Heart Will Love These CRIMES
If you are of my generation (middle age-ish, OK 41), you probably remember CRIMES OF THE HEART from the 1986 movie, and not as the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning play for drama. That will soon change.
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) just opened its season with the heartbreakingly funny play about three sisters in rural Mississippi, and a gunshot that was a wake-up call for each of them. The writing is clever and witty, as I would expect from MCT and its Artistic Director C. Michael Wright (who, to his credit, is somewhat of a savant when it comes to picking the right play at the right time.) But, the star of this show, are the stars of this show.
This ensemble cast, featuring Karen Estrada, Laura Frye, Laura Gray, Neil Haven, Georgina McKee, and Jonathan Wainwright, is outstanding. There isn’t a weak one in the bunch. The both Haven and Wainwright deliver strong performances, but the show rests proudly on the shoulders of the women of this play. In the opening scene, Estrada enters and the laughter begins (have you ever watched a southern belle wiggle into a pair of one-size-too-small panty hose in the humidity – classic!) Then we meet the sisters: Lenny played by Gray, a sweet spinster who pathetic life makes you laugh as to stop you from crying; McKee playing middle-sister and lost soul, Meg; and Frye, as Babe, the “pretty one” whose life seems to teeter on the edge of fantasy and reality. What you will see in this performance of CRIMES OF THE HEART that you won’t see in the movie, or in any other production, is Milwaukee’s new stars of stage.
As I sat in the dark opening night, I had a strange epiphany: many of the actors who I watched over the years as my love for theater grew are now the teachers, mentors and supporting cast to many of these fine actors… I felt old. But then I felt invigorated. The star quality on the stage was awesome. The chemistry between Laura Frye and Georgina McKee is captivating. The story seems to unfold from within Meg and Babe’s shared pain. I have seen each of these actors in other roles, and I have never been disappointed, so watch for their names in upcoming productions.
As I said, there isn’t a weak performance in the show, and with award-winning material like this, CRIMES OF THE HEART is a must-see from Director Mary MacDonald Kerr. In fact, it is probably a two-times see… at least for me! Tickets specials are abundant, and you can see this show with a friend for under $20.