BY ERIN HALBEISEN
Photo courtesy of Janet Miller. Tania Vazquez, Cecilia Orosco and Diana de la Peña in their final scene of “Crimes of the Heart.”
“Crimes of the Heart” premiered in Theater Too on COD’s Palm Desert campus at 7 p.m. on March 12. The play was originally written by American playwright Beth Henley and considered a “black comedy,” which play director, Janet Miller defines as “a comedy with serious undertones.”
The play is set in the mid-20th century in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. The story revolves around three sisters, each with their own “crime of the heart”: Lenny, the eldest sister, has never allowed herself to find true love. Meg, the middle sister, has loved too many men. Lastly, Babe the youngest has just killed her husband.
The production was spot on from stage design to costumes, to lighting and the performance by the actors was near perfection.
The stage design accurately portrayed the era from set to sound. The set was designed as a modest 1970s kitchen characterized by flower wallpaper and lime colored finishes. Love songs popular to the 1960s played in the background upon entering the theater and blue lighting was used throughout to build intensity.
The director held true to the playwright’s original vision. All actors impressively held Southern accents and the costume design was representative of the time period as well as of the personalities of each of the characters.
Lenny wore conservative clothing that was too old for her age, Meg wore tight jeans and colorful tops, and picture-perfect Babe wore well-kept dresses in pink colors. The director took care in making the actors of the three sisters, Tania Vazquez, Cecilia Orosco and Diana de la Peña, look alike in hair color and stature.
Vazquez, Orosco and de la Peña skillfully acted-out the brutally honest and loving relationship of three sisters. They expressed the frustration, anger, forgiveness, and unconditional love that sisters share. It was clear that each girl had problems and dreams different from one another, but loved each other nonetheless. There were very few errors made by any of the actors, which deserves a round of applause.
While the play does not completely resolve the problems presented, the audience is left on a hopeful note. The “Crimes of the Heart” closing scene showed the sisters laughing and eating birthday cake. The cake was offered to the audience after the close which was a major plus.
One student, Ian Tang, provided a male perspective. He said, “The play really came together around the familial relationships. You could really feel the tension of old relationships and the spark of the new ones.”
Maglia Sabio, another student said, “I enjoyed seeing the three sisters and how they interact with each other and how they created solutions to their problems together. I’m the youngest of three sisters so I can relate.”
This play touches on a wide range of themes. Although some of the themes are rather serious, there is comedy strung along the entire way that makes this play real-life relatable. Overall, Janet Miller, the cast, and the crew deserve a round of applause for putting on such a professional production.
Miller said, “The audience can expect to see themes of spreading wings, sister bonding, and mental health as well as darker themes surrounding spousal abuse and attempted murder. It is a feminist play, but there are universal themes that can apply to anyone.”
Miller hoped that the audience will take home with them these timeless themes, but most importantly, she says, “I hope the audience can see the talent and hard work put in not only by the actors but by everyone behind the scenes.”
COD’s next production is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” It will premier at the McCallum Theatre on May 2-5. For tickets go online at www.collegeofthedesert.ticketleap.com.