The Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity at Granite Theatre's current production is "Crimes of the Heart" by Beth Henley. At the core of this tragic comedy, a Pulitzer Prize winning show, are the three Magrath sisters, Meg, Babe, and Lenny, who reunite at Old Granddaddy's home in Hazlehurst, Mississippi after Babe shoots her abusive husband. The trio was raised in a dysfuctional family with a penchant for ugly predicaments and each has endured her share of hardship and misery. Past resentments bubble to the surface as they're forced to deal with assorted relatives and past relationships while coping with the latest incident that has disrupted their lives. Each sister is forced to face the consequences of the "crimes of the heart'' she has committed. The show opened on Broadway on November 4, 1981 and ran for 535 performances. Director Vincent Lupino picks six topnotch performers to play these roles. Their reward is a resounding round of applause from the appreciative audience.
Director Lupino obtains fantastic acting from this cast. Hard working stage manager Jodi Santucci keeps things running smoothly while lights and sound execution is by Carrie Heise. The magnificent indoor/outdoor set is by David Jepson.This Southern Gothic play takes a compassionate look at good country people whose lives have gone wrong. Author Henley infuses humor into the eccentric characters in this show. The MaGrath sisters are all grown up, put still trying to find themselves. Henley shows that a sisterly bond endures no matter what they have been through. Susanne Colle plays Lenny who is celebrating her 30th birthday at the start of the show without yet knowing true love. She captures the pathos of the sister who stayed with their ailing grandfather while the other two escaped. Susanne delivers a multilayered performance as Lenny in both the comic and dramatic moments. Her funniest moment occurs when she chases bitchy cousin Chick out of the house which wins her thunderous applause. Amy Buckley plays Meg who was a successful hometown singer but whose singing career in California hasn't lived up to expectations. She displays the gutsy behavior needed for this role while drinking and smoking up a storm. One of her funniest bits is when she takes a bite out of all the candy in the box which Lenny received for her birthday. Danielle Conti is the youngest sister, Babe who has just had an argument with her husband and shot him because she "didn't like his looks.'' There is much more to that which the audience learns during the proceedings. Danielle shows the inner rage of Babe at first and then delivers the goods in a touching way during the revelation scene. She is hilarious as she imitates her husband's speaking voice.
Nicholas Mikkelsen plays Barnette, the lawyer who is defending Babe against the charges of shooting her abusive husband, Zackery. He enters gangbusters on the stage and delivers one of the best performances I have seen him do. He does an excellent job conveying the nerdyness of this attorney who has a vendetta against Zach for having ruined Barnette's father's life.. His checkered suit is hoot and his line delivery is topnotch, too. Ann Westendorf is a hoot as the bitchy, catty cousin Chick. She has a disparaging word about everyone and everything. Her opening scene is very humorous as she changes her pantyhose onstage. Ann runs roughshod over the sisters until Lenny gives Chick, her comeuppance. Brian Olsen does a wonderful job as Doc, an old boyfriend of Meg who even though he is married still carries a torch for her after all these years. So for a look at a Southern Gothic comedy, be sure to catch the well written "Crimes of the Heart" with its comic and dramatic twists and turns.