Audience members attending the Olympic Theatre Arts’ production of “Crimes of the Heart” will no doubt wince, nod knowingly and laugh loudly at the familial dysfunction, “issues” and antics of three mismatched sisters from Hazlehurst, Miss., in Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
There’s plenty of zany and outrageous dialogue among the trio as the three actresses portraying Lenny, the oldest (Lily Carignan), Meg, in the middle (Jessica Campbell) and Babe, the youngest (Melissa Murray) — but poignancy, too, as they reacquaint themselves while standing vigil around their dying grandfather.
The play is directed by husband and wife team Roger and Sharon Briggs, a couple who’ve been acting together since 1980 and in 1987 performed “Crimes” in Sedro-Woolley.
“It’s a wonderful ensemble play and the actors sound … well, you’d think the three girls are sisters,” Sharon said. “It’s been a joy because there’s been a lot of camaraderie.”
Roger said they burned up the phone lines trying to find the cast of six but he’s well-satisfied with the quality of local talent that emerged.
“And here we are on the verge of a very successful play,” he said. “It’s the story about three sisters who’ve gone off in different directions — it’s very real, very believable, and not unlike a lot of families. Every family has some dysfunction in it.”
“It’s quirky,” said Sharon, who co-directs. “I laugh, I sit there and I laugh. Their cousin, ‘Chick the Stick,’ (Alexandria Edouart) is so funny. She’s highfalutin’ and she’s hysterical.”
Lenny is a 30-year-old spinster who lives with “Granddaddy” while Meg is a down-and-out wannabe singer returning from Hollywood. Babe also lives in their hometown and is married — but doesn’t want to be. How she decides to resolve that predicament reunites the sisters in weird and wonderful ways.
“When they’re looking a a family photo album, there’s a real sense of togetherness,” Roger said, “Or when Meg and Babe get Lenny a massive birthday cake,” Sharon added.
“The final scene is the most glorious — I get tears.”
Other characters are Doc (Aaron Campbell/Colby Thomas), Meg’s ex-boyfriend that Lenny had a crush on, and Barnette (Edwin J. Anderson III), Babe’s lawyer. Except for these two and the soundman, the Briggs are working with an entirely female crew, which caused Roger to quip, “I feel like I’m in foreign territory sometimes.”
Crew members are Miku Godfrey, Nick Dipietro and Elaine Caldwell, set construction/props; Jan Eadie and Barbara Taber, costumes; Amanda Tait, lighting; Jenny Sies, stage manager; Pamela Ziemann, assistant stage manager; and Phil Mortenson, sound.
The co-directors believe that every play has a heart and have no doubt audience members of OTA’s production of “Crimes” will feel its heart, too.