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'Crimes of the Heart' returns to Long Beach


"Crimes of the Heart," the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic drama about three Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions, opens June 9 at International City Theatre in Long Beach.

“I have loved this play ever since I saw the original Broadway production,” says director Luke Yankee, whose previous directing credits at ICT include "Private Lives" and "Shipwrecked!" “Its wit, charm and humanity speak to me — and to many of us — on a very basic level. Its message of honoring and loving your family first, no matter what, is timeless.”

Set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in 1974, "Crimes of the Heart" tells the story of the three Magrath sisters: Lenny, the oldest, is unmarried and facing diminishing marital prospects. Middle sister Meg has just returned from the West Coast after a failed attempt at a singing career. And youngest sister Babe has just been bailed out of jail after shooting her husband in the stomach.

Their priggish and insufferable cousin, Chick, seems only too pleased to stir up gossip and rehash old family scandals.

Into this disturbing but hilarious world of dysfunction comes Barnette, an awkward young lawyer who hopes to rescue Babe from her legal predicament. Rounding out the group is Doc Porter, Meg’s former flame whom she ditched after a brief tryst five years earlier during Hurricane Camille.

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Beth Henley completed writing the play in 1978 and submitted it to several regional theaters — without success. Unknown to her, a friend entered it in the Great American Play Contest at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. It was named co-winner and produced at the 1979 Actors Theatre Festival of New American Plays.

There, it was so well received that it was selected by numerous regional theaters for their 1979-80 seasons. The Manhattan Theatre Club produced it off-Broadway in December 1980, where it a garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. It opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre in 1981.

The 1986 film adaptation was directed by Bruce Beresford; it garnered three Academy Award nominations.

"Crimes of the Heart" runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 9-25. Two preview performances take place June 7-8, both at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for June 9 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post show reception at Utopia Restaurant. Tickets to preview shows are $35.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.

Earlier Event: June 4
NCCC Awards Banquet