Elaine Pazaski, Shay Munroe and Charlotte Bailey as the Magrath sisters in “Crimes of the Heart.”

Elaine Pazaski, Shay Munroe and Charlotte Bailey as the Magrath sisters in “Crimes of the Heart.” (Ben Crop)

The Theatre Group at SBCC concludes its 2017-18 season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, April 11-28, 2018 in the Jurkowitz Theatre. The production is directed by R. Michael Gros.

Crimes of the Heart won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

A synopsis: The scene is Hazlehurst, Miss., where the three Magrath sisters have gathered to await news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital.

Lenny, the oldest sister, is unmarried at 30 and facing diminishing marital prospects. Meg, the middle sister, who outgrew Hazlehurst, is back after a failed singing career on the West Coast; Babe, the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her husband in the stomach.

The play is the story of how the young characters escape the past to seize the future.

Henley was born in 1952 in Jackson, Miss. She was one of four sisters. Her parents were Charles Boyce, an attorney, and Elizabeth Josephine Henley, an actress.

Henley attended Southern Methodist University, where she was a member of the acting ensemble. While in college, Henley completed her first play, a one-act titled Am I Blue. She graduated from Southern Methodist in 1974 with a BFA.

From 1975-76, she taught playwriting at the University of Illinois and the Dallas Minority Repertory Theater. In 1976 Henley moved to Los Angeles and began work on Crimes of the Heart, her first professionally produced play.

It opened at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1978, where it was declared co-winner of a new American play contest. The play moved to New York and was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club.

Crimes of the Heart also earned Henley a Tony Award nomination, and her screenplay for the film version was nominated for an Oscar as Best Adapted Screenplay.

Henley has said growing up with three sisters was a major inspiration for Crimes of the Heart.

Crimes of the Heart at SBCC cast includes Charlotte Bailey, Leesa Beck, George Coe, Shay Munroe, Elaine Pazaski and Nicholis Sheley.

Bailey (Meg Magrath) is making her debut performance with The Theatre Group at SBCC. She has performed in other California theaters including Enceladus Theatre Company and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum of Los Angeles. Among her favorite roles are Hedda in Hedda Gabler, Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie.

Beck (Chick Boyle) is returning to the stage after taking a hiatus to finish her Ph.D in education at UCSB, where she currently serves as university registrar. Favorite past roles locally include Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stephanie in Time of My Life (The Theatre Group at SBCC), and Maggie in Red Herring (Circle Bar B Theatre).

COE (Barnette Lloyd) has appeared on stage with The Theatre Group at SBCC in Communicating Doors, Sherlock Holmes: The Hounds of Baskerville, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Stirring the Pot.

He performed at Center Stage in Morning’s at Seven and Ghetto; at Circle Bar B in Noises Off, The Fox on the Fairway, Return Engagements and The Girl in the Freudian Slip.

Munroe is making her debut performance for The Theatre Group at SBCC in Crimes of the Heart. She has played a variety of roles, mainly on stage, the most recent in SBCC Theatre Arts Department’s Student Showcase as Annie in Foreplay: or The Art of the Fugue by David Ives.

Pazaski (Lenny Magrath) works locally with the Lit Moon Theatre Company, UCSB, Westmont College, Elements Theatre Collective, and SBIPP as an actress, dramaturg and educator. She recently appeared with The Theatre Group at SBCC in One Man, Two Guvnors. Other credits: The Nina Variations, The Insect Comedy and The Pirates of Penzance.

Sheley (Doc Porter) was last seen in SBCC Theatre Department’s It’s a Wonderful Life as Freddie Filmore. Sheley grew up in Santa Maria where he graduated from the two-year acting program at PCPA. He is best known for his roles as Donalbain in Macbeth and Edmund in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

GROS, the dirctor, is a member of the professional theatre directors union (SDC), currently serves as an associate professor, and is the former Co-Chair of Theatre Arts at Santa Barbara City College. He is a Fulbright finalist.

He served as artistic director for six seasons with PCPA Theaterfest and is co-artistic director of PlayFest Santa Barbara.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday April 15 and 22; 2 p.m. Saturday matinees April 21 and 28. The 2 p.m. April 15 performance will be live-captioned for the hearing impaired.

Ticket prices are: Previews April 11-12, $18 general/$15 seniors/$10 students; Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Saturday and Sunday matinees, $24 general/$19 seniors/$14 students; Friday and Saturday evenings, $26 general/$21 seniors/$17 students. 

Tickets can be purchased at the Garvin Theatre Box Office, 965-5935 or online at www.theatregroupsbcc.com.

The Jurkowitz Theatre is wheelchair accessible and has assisted listening headsets. Parking is free. Due to the intimate nature of the theater, no late seating is permitted.

— Pamela Lasker for the Theatre Group at SBCC.