For Michael Parker, keeping his personal and professional lives separate has never been an option.
"I have strong ties to my family, and it's difficult to set that aside," says the Front Range Theatre Company artistic director.
And as he's prepared a cast for the debut of Crimes of the Heart at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, he hasn't wanted to. In fact, having grown up as the youngest of 12 kids has helped the 30-year stage veteran understand the sibling connections crucial to the script.
"As I began to visualize this show, I saw a lot of metaphors to a pack of dogs," Parker says. "Who was the top dog, and who were the alpha dog and the beta. It was all about the pecking order."
In the 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning show (later turned into the 1986 film starring Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek), three Southern sisters are forced to explore past and present relationships altered by their dysfunctional family life and other misfortunes. Though dark, the play is full of humor — "what helps us get through [life]," as Parker puts it.
With a cast of only six, Parker says he's worked on a personal level with the actors. He notes that the least experienced cast member plays the youngest sister, and the most experienced plays the oldest, all of which should breathe extra personality into the characters.
"What the actors have brought to [the play] and have given to me is the true humanity of the story," he says.
Crimes of the Heart is the third collaboration between the Front Range Theatre Company and Tri-Lakes; another performance is scheduled for mid-July. Formerly called the Castle Rock Players, the company is a community theatre group combining young talent with seasoned veterans and others in between.