Conway Dinner Theater slates dates for Crimes of the Heart

Carol Rolf Contributing Writer Published October 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf / Contributing Photographer

Appearing in the Conway Dinner Theater’s upcoming production of Crimes of the Heart are, from the left, Doug Laman as Barnette Lloyd, Amy Brock as Babe Botrelle, Shannah Rae as Chick Boyle, Jenny Ruud Bruno as Lenny Magrath, Mandy Fason as Meg Magrath and Johnny Passmore as Doc Porter. The play opens Nov. 1 at the Faulkner Academy of Arts, 2201 Washington Ave. in Conway.

— The Conway Dinner Theater will transform its stage into an old-fashioned kitchen where all the action takes place in its the coming production of Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley.

It’s there at the dinner table that the audience will come to know the Magrath sisters, who have come home to Hazelhurst, Miss., to await news of their grandfather, who is dying in a local hospital.

As the plot unfolds, the audience will learn that each sister has committed a crime of passion, and each is trying to deal with the consequences.

Crimes of the Heart will be presented as a dinner theater Nov. 1 and Nov. 8, with the meal being served at 6 p.m., and as a “theater-only” performance at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 and Nov. 9 at the Faulkner Academy of Arts, 2201 Washington Ave. in Conway.

Tickets for dinner-theater performances are $27.50 for adults; tickets for show-only performances are $14.50 for adults. Tickets may be purchased at Kordsmeier Furniture, 1023 Oak St. in Conway; online at; or by phone at (501) 339-7401.

The dinner menu will be honey-baked ham, scalloped potatoes, green-bean casserole, rolls and pecan pie. Concessions will be available at the show-only performance.

Crimes of the Heart received the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play was made into a movie with the same name in 1986 starring Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton as the Magrath sisters.

“The three sisters all have to deal with what they did,” said Gerry Bruno of Little Rock, director of the local production. “Each of them has done a ‘crime of the heart,’ and all are dealing with the repercussions of those decisions.

“The play is funny and emotional, and the love the three sisters feel toward the end is wonderful to see. I don’t think I could have worked with any better cast.”

Bruno, who moved to Little Rock in 2008, is an award-winning filmmaker with experience in film, television and theater. He is involved in the Arkansas film community and created the Arkansas Filmmakers Forum to help local filmmakers network. When not directing theater, he serves as executive producer and director of P. Allen Smith’s TV shows.

Bruno previously directed Harvey and A Christmas Carol for the Conway Dinner Theater.

The cast includes the following:

• Jenny Ruud Bruno of Little Rock portrays Lenny Magrath, the oldest sister at 30, who is not married and has trouble dealing with that fact.

Bruno is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from the New School University in New York City. She has appeared in several shows in New York City. She moved to Little Rock with her husband, Gerry Bruno, in 2008 and made her Conway Dinner Theater directorial debut

with him in Harvey. She has appeared in several local productions, most recently as Roz in the musical 9 to 5.

• Mandy Fason of Hot Springs plays Meg Magrath, the middle sister at 27.

Fason is an actress, a model and an independent filmmaker. A graduate of the University of North Texas, she began her acting career at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, Calif. She has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and most recently appeared in the feature film Valley Inn, starring Joey Lauren Adams and filmed in Northwest Arkansas.

• Amy Brock of Greenbrier is Babe Botrelle, the youngest sister at 24.

Brock lived in Washington, D.C., for the past several years, where she taught flying trapeze and performed with Trapeze School New York. She now teaches English and drama at Quitman High School. She has appeared with the Conway Dinner Theater in Annie Get Your Gun, Harvey and A Christmas Carol.

• Johnny Passmore of Guy plays Doc Porter, Meg’s old boyfriend.

In addition to appearing in Crimes of the Heart, Passmore serves as stage manager for the show. He has appeared in several Conway Dinner Theater performances, including Oklahoma, Seussical! the Musical and The Importance of Being Earnest. He also is a filmmaker.

• Doug Luman of Conway is Barnette Loyd, Babe’s lawyer.

Originally from Peoria, Ill., Luman is a graduate student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where he is working on a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing. He is a poet and a nonfiction writer. This is the first time he has appeared in a Conway Dinner Theater production.

• Shannah Rae of Conway portrays Chick Boyle, the Magrath sisters’ first cousin.

Rae has been an actress/singer since 2005. She holds degrees in music from UCA and teaches voice at the Faulkner Academy of Arts and at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. She most recently appeared in the Conway Dinner Theater’s production of 9 to 5.