New Di­rec­tion stages ‘Crimes of the Heart’

New Di­rec­tion show will run two week­ends

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecMICHAEL

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.

STAFF PHOTOS BY MICHAEL REID

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.

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