Center Players will present ‘Crimes of the Heart’ in Freehold


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Center Players continues its return to live theater with a production of Beth Henley’s 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Crimes of the Heart.”

Directed by award-winning filmmaker and playwright Anthony Marinelli of Manalapan, the production will run from May 6-22 at Center Playhouse, 35 South St., Freehold Borough, according to a press release.

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The tragicomedy tells the story of the three Magrath sisters (Lenny, Meg and Babe)
in Hazlehurst, Miss., (circa 1974) who reunite at their grandfather’s home as he
convalesces in the hospital while the youngest sister, Babe, awaits trial for shooting
her husband.

“This is a play about how family overcomes adversity,” explains Marinelli. “It’s about
how we endure those hard times that seem impossible to get through without the
love we share with those who are closest to us.

“Even though we may have our differences, or we might not see each other often, we share a common bond, and it’s through that bond that we gain our strength. That’s what I love about the play. It shows how, as a unit, the Magrath sisters form one heart and that heart cannot be broken,” he said.

The cast features Donna Nicholle (Howell), Linda Paone (Lincroft), Rebecca Grossman (Hoboken), Candace Predham (Middletown), Christopher Berry (East Brunswick) and Ryan Irving (Somerdale).

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are
priced from $25 to $28 and are available online at or by calling

Over the past 15 years, Marinelli has written and directed for stage and screen
and his work has been recognized with numerous awards, according to the press release.

His short film, “Acoustic Space,” about how technology has changed the way people communicate, won Best Original Screenplay at the Richmond International Film Festival in 2016, as well as Best Short Film at the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival in 2018.

“Acoustic Space” and “Marital Arts” both appeared in the Cannes Film Festival, and “Finding
Sandler,” a documentary feature Marinelli spent several years writing, producing and editing with director David Seth Cohen, recently had its world premiere at the Garden State Film Festival, according to the press release.

“Crimes of the Heart” is the sixth production Marinelli has directed for Center Players, including most recently “Prelude to a Kiss” which was performed outdoors at Lake Topanemus Park, Freehold Township, in July 2021 and featured Donna Nicholle and Linda Paone in the cast.

“They had a sister-like connection,” said Marinelli, “and I thought they were naturals to play sisters in ‘Crimes of the Heart.’ That’s how this production began.”

Center Players is celebrating its 20th season at Center Playhouse in Freehold Borough. More information can be found at

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