Crimes of the Heart

Kati Fitzer and Kelsey KistlerThis play has only six characters and all takes place within the confines of a tiny kitchen, yet it holds the audience spellbound for the entirety as it unfurls a dramatic tale of three sisters and their dysfunctional love lives. Which may sound a bit like a “chick flick.” But student director Sarah Joyce Andrus, a senior at Churchill High School, does a superb job of bringing this story to life with her creativity, choice of actors/actresses, and her flair for realism.  Because of her talents and those of the students in the six roles, this is much more than just a compelling play for chicks.

The main plot of the story is about three sisters, a cousin and two men (an ex-boyfriend and a lawyer).  Each of these characters plays an integral part in the plot which takes place during a 24-hour period in the fall of 1987, five years after hurricane Camille in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, in Lenny’s kitchen.  Lenny Magrath (Kelsey Kistler) is the sister everyone walks over – even her grandfather whom she takes care of.  Kelsey embraces her part so well. There is no separation between actress and character. She is a patient but fragile woman who is very down on herself and allows everyone to walk all over her, causing her to resent life and the cards she has been dealt. Yet there is a strength that awakens slowly during the play.  Lenny’s growth is shown exquisitely well by Kelsey.

Alex Yarnevich and Jon SprowBabe Magrath (Kati Fitzer) is the baby sister of the story whose life is changing dramatically and fast.  It is actually her problems that bring all the players together in this kitchen.  She plays a very child-like, innocent young woman.  Under all this façade is a lonely woman who is capable of questionable acts.  Kati does an excellent job of looking sweet and simple and confused.  The lawyer, Barnette Lloyd (Jon Sprow) is hired to help Babe, and he is thrilled because, as you watch him, his love for her begins to peek out.  Jon is great at attempting to hide his feelings, showing his character’s hesitancy with certain comments and his shy glances at Babe. 

When the last sister arrives in town, many things start happening.  Meg Magrath (Alex Yarnevich) is considered a loose woman by some in the town.  Alex has the perfect southern accent, she is very dramatic in her presentation which helps to make her character even more believable, and she hides her sensitive and vulnerable side while allowing it to come out in bits and pieces throughout the play.  Her character grows in its willingness to love her family and herself better – her moving and often amusing performance extremely realistic and mesmerizing. 

Meg’s nemesis is their cousin, Chick Boyle (Emily Osborn), who plays a woman very concerned with her station in life, and she doesn’t care who she hurts to keep it.  This actress does a fabulous job of being loudmouthed, bossy, opinionated and difficult – often hilariously so.  All of the women keep their southern accents strong during the entire play, and they stay in character whether sitting on the table, a chair or even standing away from the center of the action. 

Doc Porter (Nick Bodis) is the nice looking guy from down the street who all the girls grew up with, and he and Meg shared some very special times.  He is desperate to talk with her and shows up many times to check in on things.  He plays a nice man with hurts from the past that may not heal with persuasiveness.  He is able to show his feelings well and helps to add to this ensemble.

Although the ensemble is small, it is incredible.  The depth of this play, the acting ability and the directing ability are all astounding, making it well worth the adventure of watching such a dramatic and intense play.

Performed May 11-12, 2007.

Roshelle Hall

National Youth Theatre
~ Cast ~

Kati Fitzer, Alex Yarnevich, and Kelsey KistlerLenny Magrath: Kelsey Kistler
Meg Magrath: Alex Yarnevich
Babe Magrath: Kati Fitzer
Chick Boyle: Emily Osborn
Doc Porter: Nick Bodis
Barnette Lloyd: Jon Sprow

Director: Sarah Joyce Andrus
Assistant Director: Rachel M. McCarthy
Stage Manager: Rachel M. McCarthy
Lights: Dan Evans
Sound: Rachel M. McCarthy
Props Master: Kathy Andrus, Sarah Andrus
Props Running Crew: Brittany Bishop


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