Southern Dramedy 'Crimes of the Heart' Opens at SJU

Friday, February 6, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (February 2, 2009)—The 81st season of the Cap and Bells Dramatic Arts Society, the Saint Joseph’s University theatre production program, continues with the Tony Award-winning Crimes of the Heart, a raucous yet poignant Southern comedy-drama by Beth Henley. It will open Thursday, February 19 at 8 p.m., in Bluett Theatre and run through Sunday, March 1.

Director Laura Pattillo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and co-artistic director of Cap and Bells, is thrilled to bring this landmark Southern drama to SJU. “Our production falls almost to the day on the 30th anniversary of the first production of Crimes of the Heart at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979,” she says. “The play then went on to an off-Broadway run, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama before opening on Broadway in 1981.”

Crimes of the Heart reunites the Magrath sisters – Lenny, Meg and Babe, three colorful young women whose family ties have become strained. After years apart, Meg is back in the small town of Hazlehurst, Miss., because Babe, the youngest sister, has been bailed out of jail for shooting her abusive husband. Lenny is 30 and unmarried after a lifetime spent caring for her aging grandparents, and Meg has returned from Hollywood following a failed singing career. Their mother’s suicide, which occurred when they were younger, still haunts the sisters. The action takes place over a two-day period that becomes the turning point in the sisters’ lives, addressing several difficult issues within the context of a heartwarming comedy.

Pattillo selected Crimes of the Heart not only because of her scholarly research in Southern drama, but also because of the play’s universal appeal. “Henley's work is not just a Southern classic, but an American classic that could take place in almost any small, gossipy town,” she says. “The issues in Crimes of the Heart are not only specific to Mississippi in 1974, but are in many ways timeless and enduring human dilemmas and challenges.”

Its Broadway success spawned productions in major cities across the United States and in London’s West End, and it has had several Broadway revivals. It won a Tony Award for Best Play in 1982, and the 1986 film adaptation, directed by Bruce Beresford, was nominated for three Academy Awards. Professional guest artists will create the look and feel of the 1970s Deep South. Diane Malone, artistic director of the Classic Theatre of San Antonio and freelance director and designer, is the set designer; Mary A. Folino of the Walnut Street Theatre is the costume designer; and Rob Carovillano, technical director of Bluett Theatre, is the lighting designer.

The final production of the Cap and Bells season is Stephen Sondheim’s Sundays in the Park with George, directed by Renee Dobson, M.F.A., acting chair and associate professor of fine and performing arts and Cap and Bells co-artistic director. It will play April 22-26.

Crimes of the Heart performs February 19-21 and 27-28 at 8 p.m., and March 1 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 610-660-1181 or visit General admission is $16; students, SJU employees and senior citizen tickets are $8; and tickets for children under 12 are $5. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. Bluett Theatre is located in Post Hall at 56th St. & Overbrook Ave.

Media Contact

 Patricia Allen, Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,

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