Rubicon Theatre Co Continues Season With CRIMES OF THE HEART, Opens April 24
Rubicon Theatre Company continues its 2009-2010 Season with a revival of Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play CRIMES OF THE HEART. Set in Mississippi in 1974 (five years after Hurricane Camille), this sweet, sexy comedy follows the travails of the three Magrath sisters, who come together at the family home in Hazelhurst when the youngest Babe is charged with shooting her husband "'cause she didn't like his looks." Middle sister Meg reconnects with Doc Porter, with whom she had a romantic tryst before heading to L.A. to start a recording career. And Lenny, the eldest, has set her own passions aside in order to take care of Old Grandaddy. Despite their love for each other, sibling rivalries bubble to the surface in a hilarious, heartwarming and familiar way. CRIMES OF THE HEART opens April 24 at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. Low-priced previews are April 21-23. Specific show times and prices are below. The production continues Wednesdays through Sundays through May 16. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.
The cast for CRIMES OF THE HEART includes Rubicon newcomer and recent Ovation Award-winner Tasha Ames (Featured Actress for Rabbit Hole), as the vulnerable and troubled Babe, FALINE ENGLAND (Rubicon's Turn of the Screw and All My Sons) as the family rebel Meg, and KARA REVEL (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Rubicon) as the repressed caretaker Lenny. ROSS HELLWIG makes his Rubicon debut as Barnette Lloyd, the defense attorney with a "vendetta" towards Babe's husband; and JASON CHANOS (Rubicon's Bus Stop and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) plays Doc Porter, who still pines for Meg even though she deserted him in the eye of the hurricane years before. TINA VAN BERCKELAER rounds out the cast as cousin Chick, whose primary concern is how the Magrath sisters' escapades will affect her own social position in the community. Rubicon Artistic Director James O'Neil, whose Rubicon credits include All My Sons, The Diary of Anne Frank and Fiddler on the Roof, helms the production.
Says O'Neil, "This play is full of opposites that surprise us and make us laugh. Beth Henley has an uncanny way of helping us find redeeming virtues in and sympathize with characters whose actions on the surface may seem impossible to understand. And although the plot elements are tragic, the characters themselves and their responses to The Situation are hilariously funny."
Ms. Henley really mines the humanity of the characters," continues O'Neil. "We find ourselves identifying with these characters and rooting for them to overcome the obstacles in their paths. We long for these sisters to have just one moment suspended in time where time stops in all the chaos of their lives. A moment of connection. Of peace. Of family."
More about the Actors and Director
Tasha Ames plays the dreamy and dysfunctional youngest sister who has shot her husband. Tasha grew up in Southern California, left for New York at 18, and spent two years at NYU (Tisch) before transferring to USC, where she graduated with a BFA in Theatre. Tasha won an Ovation Award for her role as Izzy in Malibu Stage Company's production of Rabbit Hole. Other career highlights include Lost Angels' production of Bug at The Coast Playhouse; Vinegar Tom, Fire Eater and Betty's Summer Vacation with Workshop 360; Patricia Cotter's Best/Worst with Apartment A; and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and This is Our Youth at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Tasha co-starred in the pilot of Liz Tigelaar's critically-acclaimed series for the CW, "Life Unexpected," and Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz's NBC drama "Quarterlife."
The character of Doc Porter, who was abandoned by Meg and left a cripple in the eye of the hurricane, is played by JASON CHANOS, who has appeared with Rubicon as Nick in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bo Decker in Bus Stop. Other West Coast credits include Ubu Roi and The Tempest at A Noise Within, The Uneasy Chair at Ensemble Theatre Company, and 1001 at The Theatre @ Boston Court. Regionally, Jason has worked with Kansas City Rep, Denver Center and Utah Shakespearean Festival, in roles ranging from Hamlet to multiple characters in the one-man show Fully Committed. Off-Broadway, he has performed with Playwrights Horizons and the LArk Theatre Company.
FALINE ENGLAND returns to Rubicon in the role of Meg, who has suffered a breakdown after a failed singing career. Faline previously played The Governess in Turn of the Screw, (Ovation Nomination for Best Play in a Large Theatre), and Ann in All My Sons, (Ovation Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress/Ovation Award for Best Play in a Large Theatre). Faline graduated from UCSB with a BFA in Theatre. Stage credits include Viola in Twelfth Night, Angelica in The Rover (Santa Barbara Indie Awards for both), and work with Theatre Artist's Group, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, James Donlon & Co., Western Stage and the Taper Youth Conservatory. Faline co-wrote, produced and starred in Flayjennnie Eroticus: A Documentary (Independent Award). TV and film credits include "Nip/Tuck," "Numb3rs," "Medium," "Without A Trace," "The Handler," "C.S.I.," "The Agency," "Roswell," "Any Day Now," "The Pretender," "Martial Law," "V.I.P," "The Least of These" (with Isaiah Washington), and "Midnight Clear" (with Stephen Baldwin).
ROSS HELLWIG plays Barnette Lloyd, the quirky young attorney who takes on Babe's case and is determined to win it for personal reasons. Ross recently appeared in the L.A. Theatre Works National Tour of RFK: The Journey to Justice. His L.A. credits include multiple productions with The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company; Photograph 51 at The Fountain Theatre; Troilus and Cressida and The Rover with The Antaeus Company; and The Rainmaker at A Noise Within. Ross has performed in seven shows at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, including the title role in Vincent in Brixton. Other regional credits include work with Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, Mill Mountain Theatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, The Studio Theatre and TheatreworksUSA. Film and TV credits include episodes of "Law & Order: SVU," "Numb3rs," and "The Guiding Light."
The role of Lenny, whose 30th birthday is all but forgotten in the Magrath mayhem, is played by KARA REVEL. Kara returns to Rubicon after playing Candy Starr in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Other stage credits include the World Premiere of Sit and Shiver (written and directed by Steven Berkoff), the West Coast premiere of Caryl Churchill's Far Away, the West Coast premiere of Jane Martin's Flags, the 10th anniversary production of Dracula at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rosalind in As You Like It with Shakespeare Orange County, and Othello for L.A. Women's Shakespeare Company's co-production with The Theatre @ Boston Court. Film and TV credits include "Criminal Minds," "The Legend of Simon Conjurer" with Jon Voight, "Diary of a Serial Killer" and the Emmy Award-winning TV movie "The Movement."
Belgian-born TINA VAN BERCKELAER, a Stanford University graduate, plays the annoying social climbing cousin Chick. Tina has appeared in several award-winning films and as a company member of The Pain and the Itch with The Theatre @ Boston Court.
Director James O'Neil co-founded Rubicon Theatre Company in 1998 with his wife Karyl Lynn Burns. He received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts. Jim's Rubicon directing credits include Fiddler on the Roof (Indie Award), A Delicate Balance, The Diary of Anne Frank, Man of La Mancha, The Night of the Iguana, A Streetcar Named Desire (Indie Award), Driving Miss Daisy (NAACP Award), All My Sons (2004 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play), Sylvia, The Glass Menagerie, Jesus Christ Superstar and numerous others. While on staff at Landmark Entertainment Group, Jim directed a multi-million dollar animatronics/special effects show in Japan, supervising all aspects of production and creative direction for themed attractions in Sanrio's Harmonyland. As Associate Producer/Artistic Associate for Santa Barbara Repertory Theatre, Jim helmed a new works program.
History of the Production
Playwright Beth Henley had just moved to Los Angeles in 1978 when she completed CRIMES OF THE HEART. It was her first full-length play. Unbeknownst to Henley, a friend submitted the play to the Great American Play Contest sponsored by Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the co-winner, and the play was produced as part of the prestigious theatre's 1978-1979 New American Play Festival and directed by Jon Jory. Several other regional theatres quickly announced productions.
In 1979, Ms. Henley was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award for her work on CRIMES OF THE HEART. She then made theatre history, becoming the first writer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for a play before it had been produced on Broadway. At age 29, she was also the first woman playwright to win the award in 23 years.
CRIMES OF THE HEART premiered in New York at Manhattan Theatre Club for a limited, sold-out engagement of 32 performances in 1980. The show made its Broadway bow at the John Golden Theatre in November of 1981 under the direction of Melvin Bernhardt. The opening night cast included Mia Dillon, Mary Beth Hurt, Lizbeth MacKay, and Peter MacNicol. The show ran for more than 500 performances. Opening night Critic John Simon wrote that Crimes of the Heart "restores one's faith in our theatre." Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote: "Be grateful that we have a new writer from hurricane country who gives her characters room to spin and spin and spin."
CRIMES went on to win the New York Drama Circle Award for Best New American Play, the Guggenheim Award from Newsday, and a Tony nomination.
The play has been produced in London's West End and is now regarded as a classic representation of modern Southern Gothic literature.
The film version was released in 1986 under the direction of Bruce Beresford and starred Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek. Actor/playwright Sam Shepard, whose work has been compared to Henley's, was also in the cast. Ms. Henley was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay.
A production at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre ran from April 16, 2001 to May 14, 2001. It was directed by Garry Hynes, and featured Julia Murney as Chick, who starred in Rubicon's World Premiere presentation of The Best is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman last summer. Other cast members included Enid Graham and Mary Catherine Garrison. The play was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival of the season.
A Roundabout Theatre Company off-Broadway production, based on the 2007 Williamstown Theatre Festival production, was directed by Kathleen Turner. It ran February 14 to April 20, 2008 and featured Lily Rabe, Jennifer Dundas, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Stone.
More on the Playwright
Playwright Beth Henley was born Elizabeth Becker Henley in May, 1952 in Jackson, Mississippi (just 20 miles from Hazelhurst). She was the second of four daughters born to Charles Boyce, an attorney who would become a State Senator, and ElizaBeth Henley, an actress. It was her mother Lydie who first introduced the young Beth to the writings of Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty and Anton Checkhov, all of whom were important influences on Henley's writing and on CRIMES OF THE HEART.
Ms. Henley received her BFA from Southern Methodist University, where she began her first foray into writing with a one-act entitled Am I Blue? produced in 1974 at the Margo Jones Theatre. The play provided a glimpse of Ms. Henley's talent for creating quirky, interesting characters and darkly comic themes. In 1975, Ms. Henley entered the graduate program at the University of Illinois and taught acting.
Following CRIMES OF THE HEART, Ms. Henley wrote another comedy, The Miss Firecracker Contest, which premiered in L.A. in the spring of 1980 at the Victory Theatre. The play opened in New York in 1984 at the Manhattan Theatre Club and starred Holly Hunter (a champion of Henley's work and frequent collaborator) as a young woman who tap dances and twirls a baton to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in hopes of winning the "Miss Firecracker" beauty contest. The production ran for more than 200 performances. Ms. Henley adapted it into a screenplay which was released in 1989. The cast included Hunter, Tim Robbins, Mary Steenburgen, Scott Glenn, Alfre Woodard and Kathleen Chalfant. The director was Thomas Schlamme (Executive Producer of "West Wing").
The Wake of Jamey Foster (based on events surrounding the death of Ms. Henley's father) was first produced in 1982 at Hartford Stage before moving to Broadway later than year. The Debutante Ball was first produced at South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa in 1985 and opened in London in 1989. Set in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the play was another slice of Southern life, set on the morning of the "coming out" party of a young socialite named Teddy Parker.
Williamstown Theatre Festival produced the debut of The Lucky Spot in 1986 which moved to City Centre Theatre in New York on Broadway in 1987. Abundance premiered in 1989 at South Coast Rep and played Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club as part of the 1990-1991 Season. Control Freaks was workshopped in Chicago in 1992 before premiering at the Met Theatre in L.A. in 1993, produced by Henley, Holly Hunter, and a group of friends including Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. The production marked Henley's directing debut. Signature had its World Premiere at Charlotte Rep in 1995. The play titled the L-Play (which premiered in 1996 as part of the Berkshire Theatre Festival), is really eight "mini-plays" in one that all start with the letter "L." Impossible Marriage debuted at the Roundabout in 1998. Written while Henley was pregnant with her first child, the play is set in Savannah, Georgia, and tells of a young bride named Pandora whose upcoming wedding is opposed by nearly every other character, including her older, very pregnant sister Floral, played by Holly Hunter. Alan Mandell was also a part of the original cast, under the directed by Stephen Wadsworth. Family Week opened Off-Broadway at the Century Theatre in 2000. It was Henley's most serious drama and was hailed by critics as a "moving tale of loss and missed connections." Holly Hunter again was the voice of the playwright; with Carol Kane also a key character.
Ms. Henley's most recent play Ridiculous Fraud was commissioned by the McCarter Theatre where it received raves from the New York Times. The play is about a group of dysfunctional characters who bolster their abilities to be "honest and true" with Jack Daniels and other assorted beverages. Reg Rogers and Tim DeKay headed the cast.
Ms. Henley has also written television and movie screenplays. She wrote multiple episodes of the series "Survival Guide" with Budge Threlkeld for PBS in 1985, which was followed by "Trying Times" in 1986, a half-hour sitcom. Cast members included Candice Bergen, Spalding Gray, Stockard Channing and others. Ms. Henley's film "Nobody's Fool" starring Rosanna Arquette, Eric Roberts and Mare Winningham came out in 1986. Other television projects include "Family Week" in 2000 and "It Must Be Love" in 2004. The latter starred Ojai residents Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Montecito resident Bonnie Bartlett. Ms. Henley co-wrote an offbeat comedy entitled "True Stories" with Stephen Tobolowsky and David Byrne, lead singer of the rock band the Talking Heads (who directed and co-wrote the script).
Ms. Henley and her son Patrick currently live in Santa Monica.
Rubicon Opens Design Exhibit During CRIMES OF THE HEART
Simultaneous to the opening of CRIMES OF THE HEART, Rubicon Theatre Company will open an exhibit of drawings, models, photographs, video clips and other displays of the work of three designers involved with the production: THOMAS S. GIAMARIO, Set and Lighting Designer, Marcy Froehlich, Costume Designer and T. THERESA SCARANO, Prop Designer.
Says Rubicon Producing Artistic Director KARYL LYNN BURNS, who designs sound for this show, "We realized that these three designers have each designed nearly a third of the Rubicon shows, and that our community and audience members may not know the full depth of their commitment to the company and the diversity of their work. We owe them (and our Production Manager CHRISTINA BURCK and Technical Director David King) a tremendous debt of gratitude for their commitment to excellence."
"Our hope with this exhibit," continues Burns, "is to honor and celebrate their achievements."
This production marks THOMAS S. GIAMARIO'S 30th design with the company (he is creating both the sets and lights for CRIMES OF THE HEART). Tom designed Rubicon's first in-house, fully produced show THE LITTLE FOXES. His numerous credits in Rubicon's intimate 195-seat house range from the spare set and simple white painting in Art, to memory plays like Dancing at Lughnasa, to Bus Stop (for which he won an Ovation Award), to extraordinary feats of engineering like Fiddler on the Roof (where Giamario and his team painted all four walls of the theatre), and Man of La Mancha. Marcy Froehlich has designed 17 shows at Rubicon. The broad scope of her work includes The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet, Man of La Mancha and the full BeckettFest. Prop designer T. THERESA SCARANO has created 32 designs for Rubicon. In this season alone, she has created props for the World Premiere of Daddy Long Legs, Trying and Doubt.
The exhibit will open at 6:00 p.m. prior to the April 24th gala with a reception honoring the three designers before the 7:00 p.m. performance. The exhibit will be both downstairs in the Ventura County Star reception room and in Meister Lobby at the theatre. It will continue to be open during office hours and for all performances through May 16th.
Rubicon's production of CRIMES OF THE HEART is generously sponsored by LORI AND DR. RICHARD REISMAN. Co-Sponsors are HELEN YUNKER and HILFORD MOVING & STORAGE. Media Sponsors are GOLD COAST BROADCASTING, KDB, TIME WARNER CABLE and Ventura County Star. Season sponsors are LORETTA AND MIKE MEREWETHER, MICHELINE SAKHAROFF, SANDRA AND JORDAN LABY and Barbara Meister AND BARBER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP.
Dates, Prices and Special Performances
CRIMES OF THE HEART opens at Rubicon on Saturday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m., with low-priced previews Wednesday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. Performances continue through May 16, Wednesdays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $39 to $59, depending on the day of the week. Tickets for students are $25.
OPENING NIGHT GALA tickets are $95 and include pre-show champagne and truffles and a reception with the designers at 6:00 p.m., tickets to the 7:00 p.m. show, and a post-show party with the cast, director, and designers at a private home in Ventura (complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a no-host bar). The Opening Night price also includes a tax-deductible donation to Rubicon of $50 per person.
"TALKBACKS," where audiences are invited to remain after the show for a facilitated chat with the actors and the artistic staff about the process or the production, are scheduled following the first two Wednesday 7:00 p.m. performances of the run (April 28 and May 5). The third Sunday matinee of CRIMES OF THE HEART, May 9 at 2:00 p.m., is AUDIO-DESCRIBED for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. ASSISTIVE LISTENING devices for individuals who are hard of hearing are available at all performances.
Tickets for CRIMES OF THE HEART may be purchased in person through the Rubicon Theatre Company BOX OFFICE, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance). To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900. Or visit Rubicon online at www.rubicontheatre.org. Twenty-four-hour-a-day ticketing is newly available online, thanks to a grant from the IRVINE FOUNDATION's Regional Arts Initiative, and patrons are now able to select specific seats online.