New Direction stages ‘Crimes of the Heart’
New Direction show will run two weekends
The Magrath sisters are each dealing with their own crises, and they’ll need each other to survive in New Direction Community Theater’s “Crimes of the Heart,” which runs the next two weekends at the Long Beach Community Center in St. Leonard.
“It’s a good story and I think it’s relevant still, even though it takes place in the 1970s,” said Director and Lusby resident Laurie Foster, who said she wanted to stage the play immediately after reading the book. “It’s kind of dark, but I like dark humor. There’s a lot of turmoil in the family, to say the least.”
The play centers around siblings Lenny, Meg and Babe, who are each battling their own personal demons.
Lenny (played by stage veteran Didi Olney) has just turned 30 but things don’t seem too rosy for the already gray-haired spinster. Her favorite horse just died, she can’t make lemonade worth a lick, and she’s celebrating her birthday alone. Though Meg has dropped by with a birthday gift, the Santas on the box of chocolates suggest the gift was clearly an afterthought, and she then nibbles on each looking for those with nuts.
“No, I’m not in a good place and that’s what’s cool about Lenny’s character is she’s responsible for taking care of everybody since they were kids,” said Olney, who lives in Lusby and is an engineer for the Navy. “And now she’s finally taking her life for herself, though it’s taking awhile. I think she’s realizing that she’s been envious of everyone’s life, and also she realizes that Babe and Meg don’t have it together as much as she thought and she feels a little better about herself. And she realizes she has power so she starts fighting back and enjoys it.”
That’s an understatement. Meg (Sarah Pollard in her first leading role) is the wild child of the bunch, but her career as a singer has fizzled out and she’s still attracted to her married high school sweetheart.
“I think Meg is someone that is really in tune with her appearance so that’s why she feels the need to embellish herself,” said Pollard, who lives in Lexington Park and works with autistic children. “She’s had so much put on her that she became the golden child so that now when things aren’t going too well, she feels the need to pretend she still is the golden child.”
Babe (Amalie Ostertag) is not much better off. She works alone at a brickyard, she recently shot her abusive senator husband Zachary Bottrelle (“I was aiming for his heart, but my hand was shaking,” she said), she doesn’t notice the lawyer defending her is doing it for all the wrong reasons, and she’s in the midst of a taboo relationship.
“I find solace in a young man and I find a connection there because Babe has never had an interaction with a male that is nice; it’s always been abusive,” said Ostertag, who is from Florida and about to start an internship with the Smithsonian. “I’m [actually] 18 so I don’t know what it’s like to be married or in an abusive relationship so it was difficult to get to that mindset. It was definitely different to play a woman going through all this stuff.”
Lawyer Barnette Lloyd (Alex LaClair) means well, but he has love and revenge on his mind instead of evidence and appeals.
“It’s a real conflict of interests, which is kind of in the crux of developing him since the start because a normal person would see that in this, he would be incorrect to be pursuing her at this time,” said LaClair, a cook who lives in La Plata. “A lot of the character was not really focusing on the lawyer aspect. When it came time for the lawyer parts, I made sure to make him really intelligent and focused, but sometimes he seems to drift off and not make the best personal decisions.”
Doc Porter (Cornelius Fletcher) also had plenty of promise but he lost his high school sweetheart Meg, became a drifter and a loser and was injured during a hurricane.
“He’s kind of that guy who showed a whole lot of potential in high school, but this is not what he planned for his life,” said Fletcher, who lives in Lusby and is a singing pirate, thrift store worker and animal rights activist. “[This role] is interesting, I hadn’t played a character quite like this before.”
The play also has a family theme to it as Olney is Ostertag’s aunt.
“It’s been great because I’d never had the chance to see her perform before,” Olney said. “I knew she was coming up [to Maryland] for her gap year so I mentioned we were going to do the play and said, ‘We need to really do this.’ It’s been a lot of fun working with her.”
“It’s strange and actually pretty weird,” Ostertag said, “but we’ve always been pretty close so it was easy to transition” from niece to fellow actress.
The play also features Becky White as Chick. Sherry Mervine is the producer, Cara Brzozowski is the stage manager and Frank Clever is doing the sound and lights. Olney and Foster also designed the set.
“I think [the audience] will be able to identify with at least some of the characters — if not themselves, then they’ll identify with somebody they know,” Foster said. “I had such a good group of actors to work with.”
New Direction Community Theater will stage “Crimes of the Heart” at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5; Saturday, Oct. 6; Friday, Oct. 12; and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Long Beach Community Center, 5845 Calvert Boulevard in St. Leonard.
The show, which contains one curse word, is appropriate for ages 13 and older.
Tickets are $15. For more information, call 443-624-4484, or go to www.ndctheater.org.
Clockwise from top left, Meg Magrath (played by Sarah Pollard), left, vents to sister Lenny Magrath (Didi Olney) during a scene from New Direction Community Theater’s “Crimes of the Heart,” which opens Friday. Babe Magrath (played by Amalie Ostertag), left, listens to advice from her lawyer Barnette Lloyd (Alex LaClair) in the play. A lonely Lenny (Olney) blows out the candles on her birthday cake during a scene. Doc Porter (played by Cornelius Fletcher), left, and Meg (Pollard) prepare for a night out in the play.