Theatre: Crimes of the Heart Shines at Miami Beach’s Stage Door Theater

CRIMES

Faiza Cherie, Meredith Bartmon, Ursula Anderman Photo: George Wenzler

Lord, what a day.  Three sisters are living in a small town in Mississippi and one morning sister Lenny’s horse is killed by a lightning bolt, sister Meg returns from California after failing as a singer and sister Babe shoots her husband.  Their Old Granddaddy is hospitalized after a stroke and their mother had hanged herself along with the family cat.  Of course it’s also Lenny’s 30th birthday and no one has cared enough to give her a present except for her cousin Chick who brings her a box of cheap candy.  Set up for a door slammer?  Hardly.  But there is a surprising amount of humor in this 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning piece by Beth Henley now playing at the Miami Beach Stage Door Theater through March 30.

Director Michael Leeds shows a fine touch with six good actors bringing out the tenderness of a piece that otherwise might descend into mawkishness.  Henley peels layer after layer from the lives of the three sisters but the performances preclude any touch of melodrama.

Meredith Bartmon excels as Lenny, bravely lonely as the linchpin of the family.  She’ll break your heart before the show is over.  Ursula Anderman as seemingly innocent Babe the shooter is completely intriguing with her secrets and Faiza Cherie is exactly right as the chain smoking, bourbon drinking saloon singer who gets nowhere.  Erin Pittleman in the smaller role of jealous cousin Chick does well as does Nicholas Wilder as gimpy Doc, dreams destroyed in a hurricane.  Samuel Floyd as Barnette, a small town lawyer with a large grudge is a standout.   And all the actors handle the deep fried accents with ease.

David Torres designed the set, a realistic middle class kitchen nicely lighted by Ardean Landhuis.

Crimes of the Heart is a fairly long two act show but this version at The Stage Door Theatre is worth every moment invested.  Pulitzer Prize winner.  Oh, yes.

At the Stage Door Theater, 500 71st Street, Miami Beach.  For info: 305-397-8977

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