An unbreakable bond


Garage Door Theater presents ‘Crimes of the Heart’

The newest production to grace the stage of the Garage Door Theater speaks to a lot of difficult topics — domestic abuse, adultry, racial tensions, suicide and mental health.

But the prevailing theme, Director Clark Bawcom said, is the power and impact of the bond of sisterhood.

“Even in really heighten circumstances or crises, sisters stick together no matter what,” Bawcom said.

This is Bawcom’s second Garage Door Theater production, and he said the small cast has worked hard to prepare for this play.

“They have worked really well together,” he said. “They are really working as an ensemble. A lot of them are really stepping out of their comfort zone, so I think that’s admirable.”

Set in Mississippi in 1974, the play all takes place within the kitchen of the family home where the women lived with their mother and grandparents. The playwright is Beth Henley, and the piece is considered a Southern gothic comedy.

Reece Sartain plays oldest sister Lenny Magrath, who turns 30 at the start of the play and has dedicated her life to care for her grandfather. Lenny’s nature is to be supportive and not attract the spotlight, Sartain said, and Lenny understands through the course of the play that she’s dealing with problems she didn’t cause.

“She’s kind of a person to take the blame for things that aren’t things she’s done at all,” Sartain said.

Alexandria Miller is middle sister Meg Magrath, who has been far from her hometown of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, to pursue a singing career in Los Angeles.

“She’s very confident and really sassy, but she’s also, I don’t know, mad at the world because her singing career didn’t [take] off and Old Granddaddy, she doesn’t like him.”

And youngest sister Rebecca “Babe” Botrelle, who is at the center of much of the storyline of the play, is played by Kalli Smith.

She, at 24, faces legal trouble after shooting her husband, hotshot lawyer and state senator Zackery Botrelle, in the stomach and seriously wounding him.

“She is kind of disconnected from reality sometimes,” Smith said. “I think that’s how she copes with things.”

Matthew Strauser described his character, Barnett Lloyd, as fiery. A young lawyer with a grudge against Babe’s husband Zackery and a crush on Babe herself, Lloyd plans a defense based on the abuse Babe suffered.

Rachel Tillman plays the Magrath sisters’ disapproving and judgy cousin, Chick Boyle, and Bennett Frohock plays Doc Porter, who still holds a torch for Meg.

Strauser, who played Sneaky Fitch in the Garage Door Theater’s February production of “The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch,” said the six person cast has become close during its preparation for “Crimes of the Heart.”

“We’re pretty much family at this point,” Strauser said, joking that “we want to kill each other.”

Smith also was part of that production.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, audience members must wear masks, temperatures will be checked as people enter the theater and only 31 people can attend each performance, and the default will be seats in groups of two.

“They can give me a call, and we can make sure their group of four or five sit together,” Production Manager Monica David said.

Following the variety show the Garage Door Theater put on online, the theater invested in a new sound system and recording equipment, including a new soundboard, laptop, two iPads and three cameras.

“Now we’re set up as an internet business venue,” David said, which makes it an option for business meetings, weddings or other events to be held and streamed.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 as well as 2:30 p.m. Aug. 23.

The cost is $15 per person, $13 for seniors 60 and over, $10 for children under 10 and $10 per person for groups of 20 or more. Tickets can be purchased online. Visit garagedoortheater.org for the link.

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