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Sisterly love and rivalry play out in 'Crimes of the Heart'

  • Students Alyssa Simmert, Taylor Barton, Sophie Ni and Krista Scott rehearse a scene in 'Crimes of the Heart.'

Posted on October 27, 2011

An abundance of drama unfolds between three sisters in the Grand Valley State University production of  “Crimes of the Heart,” by playwright Beth Henley. Six performances, are scheduled for two weekends: November 11-12 and November 17-19, at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee Sunday, November 13, at 2 p.m., will be given in the Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus.

A special offer on half-price tickets, regularly $6-$12, ends at the close of business Friday, October 28. Call the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office at 616-331-2300, or Startickets at 800-585-3737, or visit

The tragic comedy is set in 1974, in the Magrath family kitchen in Hazelhurst, Miss. Adult sisters Lenny (Alyssa Simmert), Meg (Sophie Ni) and Babe (Taylor Barton) reunite at their Grandparents’ home, where sibling rivalries resurface, along with a slew of new problematic circumstances.

“The ways these sisters try to solve their problems is what brings humor to their tragic situations,” said director Rob Radkoff Ek, a visiting assistant professor of theatre. “The sisters were raised by grandparents after their father abandoned them and their mother committed suicide. Each of them brings a new set of issues back to their childhood home.”

The all-student cast includes three supporting roles: cousin Chick (Krista Scott), lawyer Barnett (Chaz Bratton), and Doc (Brad Alonzo). Southern Gothic elements abound, as the sisters try to put closure on past events and draw on the strength of family bonds to start fresh.

Ek says the realistic set will have a spacious but lived-in look to it, with period aesthetics. Pre-show music will set the mood with a country feel that is alternately somber and uplifting.

“Each of the sisters has a different personality and their own set of old and new problems,” said Ek. “Throughout the play, their relationships with each other run from cold, to warm, to hot, as they discover they need to bond together, no matter what.”

Ek came to Grand Valley in August, from Florida State University. He has 20 years experience as a theatre professional in acting, directing and fight directing, and more than 10 years experience as a university instructor of performance training for actors. 

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