Family matters: Sisters laugh through the pain in CAST’s ‘Crimes of the Heart’
by Brooke Carbo
Feb 03, 2013 | 4023 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maggie Beam, Rachel Walker and Kimberly Davenport. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Maggie Beam, Rachel Walker and Kimberly Davenport. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
“Crimes of the Heart” was not CAST Artistic Director Kim Dobbs’ first choice for a mid-season comedy. The theater group was originally slated to perform “Private Lives,” a British comedy of manners revolving around two newly married couples.

But the play had to be scrapped when Dobbs was unable to find a leading man who could pull off the “very specific, very British” wit the lead role required, she said.

“Instead of doing that one badly, we quickly got the word out that we were auditioning for a new play,” Dobbs said.

Lack of leading men was not an issue the second time around. “Crimes of the Heart,” Beth Henley’s 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, tells the story of the Magrath sisters returning to their small Mississippi hometown in the midst of family crisis. Although the dark comedy is equal parts dark and comedy, Dobbs said she had no problem filling the roles of Lenny, Meg and Babe — three sisters each facing tragedy with her own special brand of humor.

“Each one is a comedic actor,” Dobbs said. “So the characters are funny, the dialogue is funny, then on top of that, the actors are also funny.”

In an interview with The Star, the show’s lead actresses talk about girl fights, sisterly love and why the Magrath girls will still be on your mind long after the curtain drops.

Maggie Beam as “Meg”

Maggie Beam plays wandering wild child Meg Magrath, returning home after a failed attempt to make it as a singer in California. A heart breaker with middle-child syndrome, Meg can often be found in the center of attention, no surprise to her sisters, who remember growing up in her shadow.

Rachel Walker as “Lenny”

The oldest Magrath sister, played by Rachel Walker, is the newcomer’s first starring role. After years as the dutiful caregiver, longsuffering Lenny is torn between quiet resentment and fierce loyalty to her younger sisters. And thanks to deep-rooted insecurities she may just throw in the towel and become an old maid.

Kimberly Davenport as “Babe”

CAST veteran Kimberly Davenport plays Babe Magrath Botrelle, the baby of the family. Impulsive and passionate, Babe single-handedly fuels neighborhood gossip. On good days, she’s a spontaneous charmer. But catch her on a bad day, you may just find her armed and bipolar.

Tell me about your character; Are you anything like Her?

MB: Right away I felt like I related to my character. I fell in love with her. I actually don’t have to do much acting. We’re very similar. My name is Maggie, and they call me Meggie in the play. I sing. I actually sing more than I act, and she’s a singer. I have two sisters and we are loony tunes. I feel like I am Meg. Meg is me — just with more cigarette smoke is all.

RW: No, I have to act here because she is shy and quiet and I’m not at all. I’m very loud; I fight frequently with family members. I can’t imagine being somebody who holds anger in instead of just spitting it out right away because that’s me. I feel sorry for people who let it build up. But they say that people who get things off their chest are much happier, much more calm.

KD: She’s a dingbat. I’m a little bit of a dingbat too. Sometimes I do things that are really silly and I do things before I realize I’ve done them and I kind of look crazy sometimes. But she does things without thinking them through, like on impulse, that I would never do. Like she shoots her husband. I can honestly say I’ve never shot my husband.

What’s your favorite part about playing your character?

MB: Meg is definitely the part of me that I don’t get to express that often — like public drunkenness and just craziness in general. So it’s fun to get to get up here and really do it, you know, relentlessly and have some fun with it.

RW: I’m not like (my character) at all, but it is so much fun to get the chance to act like somebody else.

And Lenny is a funny person. She doesn’t always mean to be, but she is.

KD: I love my character. She’s kind of the catalyst. There are two scenes where she’s really telling the story. They’re all here because she shot her husband, and so I get to tell that story — the story of why they’re all together.

Was it easy to relate to such a female-centric story?

MB: I have two sisters and we’re exactly the same. We fight all the time, but we don’t let it tear us apart. There’s always something that brings us back together.

And when there’s more women around you get to kind of be yourself — loud, proud and crazy. I mean it’s always fun to have a big slumber party. Who doesn’t like that?

RW: I grew up in a very large family. Female cousins were the only cousins I had around me. This is just like being in the midst of all them.

Women always tend to hold back just a bit when there’s a man listening. We are slightly different people when we’re alone with ourselves.

KD: These lines I feel like I’ve heard so many women in my life say. Even something like “clubs are the black cards that look like puppy dog feet.” My mom literally said that at Thanksgiving. It’s really the way we talk to each other and the way we argue. We fight with our words; we say things that purposefully hurt. But they always come back together. I’m the same with my sisters.

So what is it that’s going to stick with the audience?

MB: There’s this really great scene where we’ve gotten into like a tiff, and five minutes later we’re sitting on a cot all together looking at a photo album, hugging. Out of all the scenes in the play, those are the parts that stick out to me, the ones where we laugh and stuff our faces with birthday cake — the fun stuff.

RW: It’s the comedy and it’s the love of your family, just like in real life.

In every family there’s a story that begins with, “I know this is going to sound impossible to believe, but …”

KD: Families fight; families don’t always get along. But in the end they always love each other and will do whatever it takes.

And it’s usually in those really bad times that you make your best memories.

If you go...

CAST presents “Crimes of the Heart”

When: Feb. 7-10 and 14-17; Thursday-Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m., Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.

Where: McClellan Theater, 100 Gamecock Drive

Tickets: $20 adults, $10 students, $16 military and seniors

Info: or 256-820-CAST
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