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Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010

Waukesha Civic Opens ‘Crimes of the Heart’

Also: ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ at Boulevard Theatre

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The last full month of winter opens with a pair of local productions that explore the strange convolutions of human passion and the lengths to which people will go to pursue happiness.

On Feb. 5, Waukesha Civic Theatre opens its production of Beth Henley’s 1980 dramatic comedy, Crimes of the Heart. It’s the story of three adult sisters who reunite in Mississippi and confront the dark paths along which their hearts have led them. A larger-than-usual group auditioned for the show, resulting in a very promising cast. Donna Daniels plays the oldest sister, Lenny, who has been looking after their grandfather. Ruth Arnell plays the middle sister, Meg, who has returned from Los Angeles after a faltering singing career. Jenny Kosek plays the youngest sister, Babe, who shot her husband because she “didn’t like his looks.” Mark Neufang will direct the show.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through Feb. 21.

On Feb. 9, Boulevard Theatre presents director Mark Bucher’s staging of the rarely produced Shakespeare classic All’s Well That Ends Well. Shannon Nettesheim stars as Helena, a physician’s daughter who has long harbored feelings for Bertram, a countess’ son played by Chad Laudonio.

Helena, born to a doctor, lacks the nobility to allow her to pursue her heart’s desire. But things turn around when she has the opportunity to cure an ailing king in exchange for Bertram’s hand in marriage. Negotiating that little arrangement is only the first of many obstacles that stand in the way of Helena attaining contentment before the end of the last act.

The role of Helena, a remarkably strong Shakespearean heroine, should provide an interesting challenge for Nettesheim, who has shown real talent in the recent past. She made memorable turns in Sunset Playhouse’s production of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and Carte Blanche’s Don’t Dress for Dinner. Both of those appearances were as part of larger ensemble pieces, so it should be a pleasure to see her in a more central role in the intimate space of the Boulevard Theatre.

Other members of the cast include Karen Ambrosh as Bertram’s mother, Melissa Keith as Diana and the iconic David Flores as Bertram’s mentor Parolles.

Boulevard Theatre’s All’s Well That Ends Well runs through March 14.

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