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Trouble follows sisters in Crimes of the Heart
Gainesville High School’s drama department presents "Crimes of the Heart," the story of three sisters and their dysfunctional family. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan

GAINESVILLE — Lenny, Meg and Babe Magrath share sisterhood in a dysfunctional family, but they share another character trait — a way to find trouble.

Through their troubles they come together in Mississippi for their grandfather’s last moments of life in the Gainesville High School drama department's "Crimes of the Heart."

"One thing that I really liked about the play is that all three of the sisters go through an emotional journey, and that is mainly what it is about — us finding ourselves," said Claire Kannapell, a Gainesville junior who plays the middle sister, Meg Magrath.

The Magrath girls lost their mother to suicide and their father ran off, so the three were raised by their grandparents.

"Crimes of the Heart" was written by Beth Henley, a native Mississippian, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the play.

Pam Ware, Gainesville High drama director, said the play was chosen because of the talent in the drama department.

"When I choose the season, I do it in April at the end of the school year so that people can audition and we know what talent we have," she said.

The cast is made up of the three Magrath sisters along with Barnett, who is Babe’s lawyer; Doc Porter, who is Meg’s love interest; and Chick, the nagging cousin who can’t quite get along with anyone.

Leah Crawford plays the part of the youngest sister Babe, and said the naive character really just wants to be loved.

"She’s a little bit off the edge, but she’s kind of a kid deep down inside and doesn’t really know how to live," said Gainesville junior Crawford. "(She) really just wants to be loved, and she has to find love. And that’s why she ends up with so many problems."

During the three act play, Babe’s story unfolds to explain why and how she shot her ex-husband in the stomach, among other problems. With lawyer Barnett’s help, Babe hopes to escape criminal charges.

"He (Barnett) has a thing to settle with her (Babe’s) ex-husband, whom she shot," said Lewis Link, a senior who plays the part of Barnett. "Usually I have to play fidgety, young characters, so I have to speak quickly and I had to speak with a Southern drawl."

The more risque role in the Southern dark comedy, which was set in the late 1970s, is the part of Meg Magrath played by Gainesville junior Claire Kannapell.

"(She’s) the loose sister ... one thing that I really like about her is that she is really free, and that was kind of a challenge to bring onto the stage was a sense of her freeness," Kannapell said.

Meg’s freedom leads to attraction for Doc Porter, a married man with two children.

"They partied it up and made promises about things, and she sort of broke her promises," said Chandler Darby, a sophomore who plays Doc Porter. "So I made a life for myself and never really let go of her."

Senior Hallie Hene plays the oldest sister, Lenny, who has basically raised the family and in turn is without a husband and happiness.

"She is a very lonely and depressed woman and she’s never really been loved by any man," Hene said.

Next up for the Gainesville drama department is "Suessical the Musical," which will run March 11 through 13.

Nicole Alley, who plays Chick in "Crimes of the Heart," also has a part in the upcoming musical.

"What has been kind of difficult for me is that I have musical theater third period, and in that I play a demanding, showgirl kind of thing ... so I have to switch back and forth," Alley said.