Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Updating 'Crimes'

Clockwise from top left, director Warner Shook and actors Nathan Baesel, Kasey Mahaffy, Tessa Auberjonois, Kate Rylie, Jennifer Lyon and Blair Sams during rehearsal of Crimes of the Heart.

Rehearsals are well underway for Crimes of the Heart, the final play of SCR’s 2009-10 Season which, given the director’s SCR history, theatre-goers await with bated breath.

Consider the plays directed by Warner Shook for SCR: The Importance of Being Earnest, Born Yesterday, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, The Circle, You Can’t Take it With You, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Beyond Therapy—all megahits with audiences and critics alike.

And for that matter, consider just a few of the plays the Crimes cast members have appeared in:  Tessa Auberjonois (Everett Beekin), Nathan Baesel (Princess Marjorie and, by the way, Shook’s production of The Last Night of Ballyhoo), Jennifer Lyon (Noises Off and also Shook’s production of Born Yesterday), Kasey Mahaffy (Taking Steps), Kate Rylie (Goldfish) and Blair Sams (The Last Night of Ballyhoo, too).

Recently, Shook and the cast took a break from rehearsal to watch To Kill a Mockingbird. “I wanted them to see a depiction of a small Southern town similar to the one the characters they portray grew up in,” he explained. “Even though it was a different decade, there’s a certain vernacular in those towns that never changes, right up until today. I wanted them to experience something similar but not pertaining directly to the play.”

And that they did. According to Lyon, “Much of the play is about how we relate to each other, having played together as kids. The movie provided an in-depth specificity with my relationships.”

Not only did the characters in Crimes of the Heart grow up in the same town, the three sisters grew up in the house where, as adults, they’ve gathered again—in the big, cozy kitchen of their childhood. To try and solve some of the problems playwright Beth Henley has heaped upon them.

During rehearsals, the kitchen is taped out on the floor of SCR’s Colab rehearsal space, which the cast occupied until the first onstage rehearsal Tuesday, May 4, with the first preview following on Friday, May 7. The buzz is beginning!

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