Crimes of the Heart

By Beth Henley

Directed by Mark Neufang
February 5 to 21, 2009

Read the Reviews:

Shepherd Express, WaukeshaNOW

Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Joel Marinan

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ruth Arnell

Meg Magrath

Donna Daniels

Lenny Magrath

Jenny Kosek

Babe Botrelle

Donna Lobacz

Chick Boyle

Matt Lovison

Barnette Lloyd

Joel Marinan

Doc Porter

Production Staff 


Mark Neufang

Stage Manager

Teresa Alioto

Scenic Designer, Master Carpenter and Set Decorator

Michael Talaska

Costume Designer

Aleta Bernard

Lighting Designer

Aaron Schmidt

Sound Designer

John Santroch

Co-Properties Designer

Kris Kingstad

Co-Properties Designer

Monica Santroch

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Properties Assistant

Michelle Tiarks

Construction crew

Denise Collier
Kevin Erdman
Dan Szczepanski
Barbara Talaska
Becky Talaska
Patrick Talaska

Review Title

By Reviewer Name - TimeOut Theater Critic
Month 17, 2012

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Waukesha Civic Theatre's Memorable 'Crimes of the Heart'

By Russ Bickerstaff
Posted: Feb. 10, 2010

The Waukesha Civic Theatre explores some rather dark ground with its production of Beth Henley's tragicomedy Crimes of the Heart.

Donna Daniels plays Lenny Magrath, the eldest of three sisters, a single woman who has spent her life caring for her grandfather. Daniels is endearingly meek in the role of a woman who has lived for others. As the play opens she is preparing to welcome home her two sisters. Ruth Arnell is captivating as the middle sister, Meg, a shrewd, tough woman whose failed singing career in California has left her life in limbo. Lenny and Meg meet at a rough point in the life of youngest sister Babe (Jenny Kosek). Having just been released on bail, Babe will soon stand trial for shooting her husband in the stomach. Making matters worse, her husband is the best lawyer in town and she's reluctant to speak about the crime, saying only that she shot him because she "didn't like his looks." Kosek is charming in the role, but not until the character begins to show a degree of charm. By that time, a rhythm has built between Kosek, Arnell and Daniels. They may not look like sisters, but the authentic dialogue and intimate rapport between the three actresses serve the production well.

The events of the play move quickly. Somewhere near the end of it all, Kosek lifelessly walks across the stage dragging a light fixture behind her. She regards the oven… It's a brilliant, dark moment that's also profoundly funny. Director Mark Neufang has delivered a memorable show to the stage in Waukesha.

WCT's 'Crimes' charged with emotion

Cast captures humor, pathos of prize-winning play
By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Feb. 9, 2010

It's one very bad day for the three Magrath sisters in Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize winning play "Crimes of the Heart."

And the many hues of emotions that arise from the set of circumstances could mean a very bad day at the theater without a cast able to handle the roller coaster ride.

Fortunately, Waukesha Civic Theatre has assembled a cast of six who inhabit their characters so completely you feel you are sitting right at the Magrath's kitchen table, trying to manage the bad hand life has dealt them.

First there's Lenny Magrath (Donna Daniels), whose 40th birthday goes practically unnoticed because her younger sister, Babe Botrelle (Jenny Kosek), has been charged with shooting her husband and the news is all over the smalltown Hazelhurst, Mississippi, newspaper. Lenny, a spinster who lives in the family home where the women's mother committed suicide and the dad was a ne'er-do-well, has always been upstaged by her sister Meg (Ruth Arnell), who left town to become a singing star in Hollywood. To make matters even worse, Meg has not had a job singing for ages and the girls grandfather is in the hospital. The sisters' smug know-it-all cousin Chick Boyle (Donna Lobacz) relishes the family's misfortunes and doesn't miss any opportunity to spew her venom about the family, who she considers trashy, as she brings a cheap birthday gift over for Lenny.

A busy kitchen

Also visiting the Magrath home on this day is Doc Porter (Joel Marinan). Later Meg returns home after hearing the news of Babe. Meg and Doc were an item in town when Hurricane Camille hit five years earlier, in 1969, and many of the townsfolk blame Meg for Doc's injury during the storm, which left him with a gimpy leg and ruined his promising medical career. Doc moved on to marry a "Yankee."

Babe also returns home that day after being released from jail and meets with her lawyer, Barnette Lloyd (Matt Lovison), who has decided to set up shop in his hometown after scoring high marks in law school.

Opening night was off and running with very crisp performances and staging. The tricky Southern accents were serviceable - just enough to set the play squarely in the Deep South - but the chemistry among the three Magrath sisters was amazing. Mark Neufang, making his directorial debut, has the sisters moving comfortably and fluidly throughout the old homestead, always keeping busy as women are wont to do.

Emotions on their sleeves

There are angry moments when Lenny learns that Babe has let Meg in on a secret of hers - and the anger is palpable. There is hilarity when Lenny and Babe return home in a punch-drunk mood after a night at the hospital visiting grandpa and Meg returns after an illicit night out with Doc. And there is the sense of family support as the two sisters convince Lenny to call an old flame, ending with Lenny and Meg doing a little dance - like two boxers in a ring - as they banter back and forth.

Arnell's Meg is a ball of fire. Loud and opinionated, with a quick fuse, she is nonetheless completely dedicated to her sisters.

Kosek's Babe, on the other hand, is ethereal, as if she is moving in a dream. Her mother's suicide seems to have affected her the most and she seems to have been stripped of her emotions. Her words are detached from any feeling as she relates how she made lemonade after she shot her husband.

Daniels plays Lenny with a no-nonsense air, yet reveals lots of vulnerability as she sees her youth slipping away.

As Chick, Lobacz is a delight to watch with her big hair and short dresses as she struts about the kitchen, eventually unveiling her mean-spirited side that leads to a hilarious chase around the kitchen as Lenny finally expels the family's nemesis from their lives.

Marinan and Lovison, as Porter and Lloyd, respectively, fill their roles capably, though it seemed as though Porter's bad leg was miraculously healed by the second act.

A marvelous set features a sunny kitchen with a view of the outdoors, and a living room, plus stairs to the upstairs and a hallway to the back door.

WCT's wears both the comedy and tragedy masks in "Crimes of the Heart" well making for a very good day, or evening, at the theater.

Volunteer of the Production - Joel Marinan

Joel's upbeat attitude, willingness to help, and delightful personality were a real asset to this show. He is able to keep his head in all situations and his professionalism was appreciated by cast and crew alike. Although he had a small role in show, he was supportive of the rest of the cast and pitched in when necessary. A cast mate said Joel "… is kindness personified, I don't think you could find a more supportive player."