Students celebrate sisterhood through ‘Crimes of the Heart’

Six students perform a two-day run of “Crimes of the Heart” after only a week and a half of rehearsals.


Courtesy of Catie Popelka

The full cast of “Crimes of the Heart” pose before their opening performance.

Baldwin Wallace’s theatre department presents “Crimes of the Heart” on March 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Loomis Hall Acting Studio. This show serves as part of their staged reading series and is free to the public, but tickets are required due to limited seating. Both performances are currently sold out. 

“Crimes of the Heart” follows three sisters from the Southern United States — Lenny, Meg and Babe — as they navigate womanhood in the ‘70s. Catie Popelka, a freshman acting and directing major, especially appreciates the emotional aspect of the piece and its focus on female relationships. 

“I think [the show] just portrays sisterhood so well, and I think that’s something you don’t get to see a lot in pieces of media,” Popelka said. “And it’s a very difficult piece to watch in a way, because there are a lot of upsetting things that happen to the sisters throughout their life. But it’s just so interesting to see how, no matter what the sisters go through, they’re always sisters. And they went through it together.” 

The cast of “Crimes of the Heart” is composed of six students; this includes Popelka as Meg Magrath, Bella Issa, a sophomore acting and directing major, as Chick Boyle and Elena Thompson, freshman BFA acting major, as Babe Botrelle.  

According to Popelka the experience “is definitely going to be intense,” but she’s excited nonetheless to make her debut on a BW stage. 

Due to the format of the show, rehearsal times were significantly shorter than that of a typical production. In fact, the first read through of the script was held on March 14 — just two weeks before opening night. 

Issa originally found this shortened timeline to be somewhat daunting. 

“It kind of feels a bit like tech week, only you haven’t had any of the rehearsal time before,” Issa said. “But now that we’re doing it, I’m just so excited. … I feel like we’re ready.”  

For the show, the cast has been allowed to provide their own costumes, as well as hair and makeup, since they won’t have the crew of a full production. Issa noted that this will allow each actor to further their character work, as they explore the styles of the time period. 

“As a staged reading, we’re breaking it down to just the characters and the script,” Issa said. “But the costumes are going to definitely help bring that character I’m playing to life. … It will add another element of realism to [the show].”  

A challenge to performing the play’s material according to Thompson was that it is set in the South. 

“Our director [Dr. Martin Friedman] would like us to use a Southern dialect, and I’ve never done that before — so, I’m trying my best,” Thompson said. “But I do think that even if it’s a challenge, it’s super fun to play around with.” 

Another hurdle for the actors that Popelka noted was maintaining connection between characters during performances, though still relying on a script.  

“I think staged readings are personally very difficult,” Popelka said. “Because you have to portray emotion while still being on book. … It’s kind of a careful balance.” 

Despite the challenges this show presents, its cast is eager for audiences to see what they’ve put together. 

“The story itself is super fun and I really love it,” Thompson said. “I’m so excited for audiences to see it unfold.”