‘Crimes of the Heart’ focuses on sisterly love

Three strong sisters from a small town in Mississippi and their nosy neighbor are in the center of the plot of Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre’s upcoming production.


“This reminds me a lot of Steel Magnolias. It’s a dramedy, a drama comedy,” said Avery Villines, who is directing Crimes of the Heart, Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre’s next offering, which will open on May 5.

Set in Hazlehurst, Miss., Crimes of the Heart focuses on the lives of the Magrath sisters in the aftermath of the youngest of the three, Babe, shooting her husband. Despite some dark subject matter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play serves up plenty of comedic moments.

Not only has the story been produced on the stage, but in 1986, Crimes of the Heart was transformed into a film starring Diane Keaton, Sissy Spacek and Jessica Lange.

The oldest sister, Lenny, has stayed in Hazlehurst all of her life and become the family matriarch. She’s caring for their aging grandfather. Middle sister, Meg, ditched Mississippi for the bright lights of Los Angeles to pursue a singing career, but her dreams haven’t panned out quite as she hoped. And then there’s Babe who has lived with an abusive husband.

While there are plenty of moments of sisterly strife and conflict and some revelations of other family tragedies that have shaped the characters, there are also sweet moments of sisterly love, said Villines.

“It’s nice to see a show that portrays the cohesiveness of family,” she said. “I love it.”

Villines said the cast works well together. Playing the Magrath sisters are Mary Anne Symms-Schweser, Karen Brotherton and Nicole Swanson.

“They are all seasoned actors,” she said. “They’ve been creating some great characterizations.”

Brotherton said she’s enjoying the chance to be able to take the stage with the other two women.

“We have all worked on shows together in the past, and our paths have crossed over the years so the chance to actually share the stage and bring this funny, heart-warming show to life with these ladies is something that will stay with me for a long time,” said the actress who plays Babe.

Crimes of the Heart will be performed May, 5, 6, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. Dinner will be at 7 p.m. followed by the show at 8 p.m.

Tickets range from $30 to $53. For reservations, call (706) 793-8552.