'Crimes of the Heart'
Theatre Director Deborah Layton wanted to direct a comedy with a strong female cast for the spring play. She accomplished both with the production of Crimes of the Heart. The play is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 6-8 in the Robert Brown Theatre inside the Brown Center for Arts, Sciences and Technology on the main campus in Arkansas City. Tickets are $7 per person for the show only. A dinner is being served at 6:15 p.m. March 7 and 8 in the Earle N. Wright Community Room, also inside the Brown Center. Tickets for the dinner and show are $15 per person. Tickets may be purchased from the Cowley Box Office inside the Brown Center beginning Feb. 17 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Four women and two men have been cast for Crimes of the Heart, which came to the big screen in 1986 starring Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek as the three sisters Lenny, Meg, and Babe. Julie Cleveland of Arkansas City will play Lenny, Amanda Lockhart of Winfield has been cast for the role of Meg, and Callista Harbin of Wellington (Argonia High School) will play the role of Babe. “As far as comedies go, this one is at the top of the list,” said Layton, who is collaborating on the directing with her former teacher and current Cowley Humanities Instructor Dejon Ewing. “It’s clean, it’s funny, and it has strong characters.”
Other cast members are Ashley Millington of Wellington as Chick, Clay Toomey of Altamont (Labette County High School) as Doc, and Jeremy Smith of Winfield as Barnette. Rochelle Gibson of Arkansas City is the stage manager for the play. Layton, who is scheduled to give birth to her first child just two weeks before the play, said the show would be entertaining. “The three sisters are the glue that holds the show together,” Layton said. “And all of the parts are pretty equal. I wanted to change it up a bit.
Students who are here in our theatre program two years need to experience different genres.” Beth Henley wrote the book and the play and won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1981 for her work. The play is set in 1974. Three sisters with quite different personalities and lives reunite when the youngest of them, Babe, has just shot her husband. Babe, also known as Hollywood, has had a wild life filled with many men as a singer/actress. Their reunion causes much joy, but also many tensions.
Layton said the issues the sisters deal with are serious, but they come together to persevere with inner strength. “There is so much humor out of the situations that we really aren’t relying on any sight gags,” Layton said. “The situations lend themselves to the humor. “It’s an interesting play. I don’t want to label it a dark comedy, but the people in the play are dealing with serious issues.” Layton said the students involved are dedicated to producing a successful play. “I have wonderful students,” she said. “They’re dedicated and raring to go. They’ve jumped in with both feet and are working very hard.”
The set is a farmhouse in the South that has been lived in a long time. “It’s a realistic set, which always presents a challenge for us,” Layton said. “The properties committee has a huge job with this one.” The play takes place on the main floor inside the house. Because Layton is due soon with her first child, Ewing has agreed to work with her in a co-director capacity. “Having Dejon join us is beneficial to the students because they’re getting different perspectives,” Layton said. “We’re also bouncing ideas off each other. It’s been fun working together on this since I was her student once.”