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Tue, Feb. 18

Theater Review: Crimes of the Heart

You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. Maybe that's a good thing for the three MaGrath sisters because within the family they discover true friendship.

Unbeknownst to them, each sister commits a crime of the heart. Lenny, the eldest, finds herself single as she turns 30. Her crime is forsaking love thereby denying her own happiness because she's afraid to take risks. Meg, the middle, wild sister, has fortified herself with an exterior armor that keeps loved ones at bay. She's guilty of running away from love, which causes her life to spiral downward and she loses her desire to sing.

The youngest sister, Babe, goes astray in an abusive marriage. Her crime is shooting her husband.

How do these women rectify their crimes? Find out in Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart, now being performed at Canyon Moon Theatre through May 15.

This heart-warming dramedy examines the lives of these three Mississippi sisters who try to escape the past while facing the future. Set in Hazelhurst, Miss., the play unearths the long-standing rivalries of three eccentric sisters in a story that is a cross between Steel Magnolias and Checkhov's Three Sisters ‹ on steroids. In addition to the trio of sisters, there's a snoopy cousin, Chick, an ex-boyfriend, Doc, and a young hotshot lawyer, Barnette, -- all of whom set the stage for an evening of entertainment that will touch your heart and your funny bone.

Crimes of the Heart stars Brenda Adelman, Danielle Miller, Jennifer Jane, Shondra Thomas-Jepperson, Evan Martinez and Dylan Marshall.

Adelman flexes her acting chops as the haggard-looking Lenny, the caretaker of "old granddaddy" and soon-to-be spinster. She brings depth and balance to the role, showing Lenny's insecurities as well as her essential wackiness. It's a pleasure to watch her character evolve throughout the two-hour play and one can't help but applaud her for asserting herself at its conclusion. Adelman was last seen on the Canyon Moon stage in her one-woman show My Brooklyn Hamlet.

Miller returns to CMTC as the young, sugar-holic Babe who shot her husband because, "I didn't like his stinkin' looks." Her charismatic stage presence is endearing as she immerses herself in the character, portraying a natural blend of innocence, hope and despair.

Jane portrays the middle, wild sister Meg, who is rough around the edges. Beneath her tough exterior, however, lies a tender side that Jane reveals as the play progresses. She delivers a convincing performance as the strong, reckless sister with emotional baggage who is the catalyst that brings the sisters together.

Thomas-Jepperson portrays "Chick the stick," the self-absorbed, socialite cousin who gives unsolicited advice. Chick's own desire to be an upstanding member of the ladies league, combined with her desire to outshine and belittle her cousins, make her the villain in this story. Jepperson takes a clichéd role of the annoying relative and breathes new life into it with humor, lifting the character to new levels.

Evan Martinez and Dylan Marshall deliver fine performances as Barnette and Doc, respectively. Martinez exudes a quiet confidence as Barnette, the young, bright if stiff lawyer, who is hired to defend Babe, whom he has a long-standing crush on. Marshall brings an easy stage presence to his role as Doc, Meg's ex-lover.

Watching the three sisters interact and overcome a psychic meltdown is like watching a familiar dysfunctional family. The dialogue rings true to life and the characters are well personified. Under the guidance of CMTC's Producing Artistic Director Mary G. Guaraldi, the cast comes together an ensemble and everyone gets the opportunity to shine.

Crimes of the Heart continues through May 15 at Canyon Moon Theatre, 1370 W. Arizona 89A, in the Old Marketplace in West Sedona. Show times are 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. There is no performance Friday, May 13.

General admission tickets are $17; full-time students are $10. Tickets for today, May 11, and Thursday are $13.

For more information or to reserve tickets, call the theater at (928) 282-6212 or visit www.canyonmoontheatre.org. Tickets are also available at Rycus Corners in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona Books & Music in the Bashas' Shopping Center.

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

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