Sat, March 28

Crimes of the Heart
Canyon Moon Theatre presents Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The play took Broadway by storm, capturing the Pulitzer in 1981 and running for 535 performances.

Crimes of the Heart is a quirky, Southern comedy/drama set in Hazelhurst, Miss. The play unearths the long-standing grudges of three eccentric sisters in a story that is a cross between Steel Magnolias and Checkhov’s Three Sisters — on steroids.

The MaGrath sisters have endured the suicide of their mother, who hanged herself (and the family cat) and the abandonment of their father. Lenny, the oldest, is still unmarried; her days spent caring for old granddaddy. The youngest, Babe, shot her husband in the stomach, although she won’t say why. Middle sister, Meg, rushes home from her up and down singing career in Hollywood to help Babe through her time of trouble. Throw in one snoopy cousin, an ex-boyfriend and a young hotshot lawyer for an evening of entertainment that will touch your heart and your funny bone.

Crimes of the Heart stars Brenda Adelman, Jennifer Jane, Evan Martinez, Danielle Miller, Shondra Thomas-Jepperson and Dylan Marshall. Adelman just finished the much-applauded one-woman show My Booklyn Hamlet at CMTC. Jane (The Nerd, Steel Magnolias), Miller (I Hate Hamlet, Proof) and Jepperson (Suds) comprise some of Sedona’s favorite actresses and have frequently performed on the Canyon Moon stage.

Adelman is a native New Yorker and a recent transplant to Sedona. She studied acting at The London Academy of Dramatic Art, The Riverside Shakespeare Company and at The Atlantic Theatre Company in New York. She has performed on stage in Brooklyn, New York City, Vienna, London, Los Angeles and Arizona.

In this production, Adelman portrays the oldest sister Lenny who is unmarried and the caretaker of their granddaddy. This character is "so different from me and my one-woman show," Adelman said during rehearsal. Despite the fact they're opposites, Adelman said she was attracted to the role because Lenny evolves during the play and learns to take risks.

Jane started acting at age 5. She has performed in film and theater in Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, California and now Arizona. While in Dallas she studied acting, voice and movement for three years with Oscar-winning director/actor Don Jackson. Jane is a fitness instructor and personal trainer. She recently won the Colgate Country Showdown held at Casa Rincon.

Jane portrays the middle wild sister Meg, who is rough around the edges. Despite her tough exterior, Meg has a tender side, Jane shares. Similar to her character, she said she "can't stand feeling weak." Jane also can relate to the family dynamics of this play because she, too, comes from a large family. In fact, Jane has four sisters and a brother.

Jepperson was attracted to the play because of its colorful female characters and hysterical dialogue. She plays the socialite cousin Chick. She describes her character as a modern Southern belle who's very self-absorbed.

"She's very self-involved but she doesn't know it. She gives unsolicited advice. She's not politically correct," Jepperson offers.

Such disregard for others' feelings is the opposite of Jepperson's personality, she said. She's mindful of not giving unsolicited advice or of hurting someone's feelings, she continued.

Mary G. Guaraldi, producing artistic director of Canyon Moon Theatre, selected Crimes of the Heart because theatergoers can relate.

"We don't get to choose our families, but we all have them," she offered.

Each sister uses humor to deflect pain, making this production a funny Southern melodrama, she added.

"I love this play as an actor and as an audience member because it mirrors real life," said Mary G. Guaraldi, producing artistic director of Canyon Moon Theatre. "It's a wacky comedy that can make you laugh and cry together."

Miller received a B.A. from the University of Vermont, majoring in psychology, and minoring in theater. She has studied Street Theater in Paris, France, at the Friches Theatre Urbain, and attended workshops at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. Before seeing Danielle as Babe in Crimes of the Heart at CMTC, you may remember her as Catherine in Proof, Shelby in Steel Magnolias, or Deirdre in I Hate Hamlet from the 2003-04 season.

Jepperson was recently seen here as streetwise angel “ Marge” in the musical Suds last season. She attended Juilliard’s School of Acting and has continued to perform professionally full time as a singer, musician and actress. She is a songwriter, musical arranger and wrote, arranged and produced the music for Sedona’s first TV commercial that aired throughout Arizona and Nevada. Jepperson also performs in one of Sedona’s popular duo’s, Tom & Shondra, and she teaches private voice lessons.

Born under California sun, Martinez got his start at Canyon Moon Theatre performing in such plays as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and The Sunshine Boys. His training comes from both West and East Coasts, including the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and HB Studio where he's currently studying his craft. For the past two years, Evan has been working in New York where he just finished starring in an independent film as well as the regional theatre premiere of Crucify.

Marshall has appeared in numerous Zaki Gordon films and was last seen on stage in Play On with Old Town Players, a community theater troupe based in Clarkdale. When he's not performing, Marshall is promotions director at Yavapai Broadcasting.

Beth Henley first took the spotlight when Crimes of the Heart won the Great American Play Contest, sponsored by the Actor’s Theatre in Louisville, Ky. The play went on to win several more awards, including the coveted New York Drama Critic’s Circle prize. Henley also received a Tony nomination, and later, an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. General admission tickets are $17; full-time students are $10. Tickets for Wednesday, May 11, and all Thursday performances are $13.

For more information or to reserve tickets for Crimes of the Heart, call Canyon Moon Theatre Company at (928) 282-6212 or visit the Web at Tickets are also available at Rycus Corners in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona Books & Music in the Bashas' Shopping Center.

Canyon Moon Theatre is located at 1370 W. Arizona 89A in the Old Marketplace in West Sedona.

Subscribe to the Canyon Moon e-mail list so that you never miss a production or a poetry slam or a special event. To subscribe, call Canyon Moon at (928) 282-6212.

CMTC is a professional non-profit theater that serves the northern Arizona community and its guests.

Betteanne Rutten contributed to this story.

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