Following an icon like Sissy Spacek in a role can be daunting. The 1986 movie, Crimes of the Heart did feature Spacek, and Stageworks' veteran, Kristen Malisewski takes on the role of Babe with a rich elegance, normally only seen on professional stages.
She took a few minutes to get to know us.
Kristen, we've seen you on the Stageworks stage for quite some time. How long have you been here and how did you get involved?
I have the great fortune of being part of Stageworks since it got started. I was just a kid with a brand new case of theater-bug. Thanks to the great people we met, and my mom, the first HFAC board was formed. I got to grow up with good, fun, local theater. Now that I'm older I just keep coming back.
What's special about playing Babe?
Babe is a dream. She's got this warmth that comes from caring about others' feelings more than her own, but living that way has caused her to slowly bend and break. She plays the part of the carefree little sister, and was miscast as a smiley trophy wife. She's feeling backed into a corner, and dissociating from the reality of that. I relate very much to that feeling. "Life is unfair, so I can't move on just yet. Something that makes sense has to happen first."
The consequences of her actions are as unreal as accepting that all these bad things happened to her and her family. It's never easy to look for the "why"s of life, but she finds her own reasons eventually. My poor baby Babe does get there!
What sort of person is going to love this show?
I think anyone who loves clever text! Anyone who wants to laugh and cry at once! Anyone who thinks a cast that's made of mostly women is pretty cool needs to come! This cast is so good.
What’s challenging about bringing this script to life?
The material is real, and serious, even dark. But it's a happy show, to me. There's a balance between playing the truth of a moment, discussing pain or grief or not wanting to be alive anymore, but remembering that it's written in this sharp way that makes you smile. You get to see people act like they would when no one is looking and it's just the best. It's seeing your estranged family again and only being able to talk about food at first. It's trying to break sad news, and laughing instead.
Why did you want to be involved in this production?
The script just killed me. I loved the stage directions at the top of the show before anyone says a dang thing. It's just so good. I also wanted to audition for Sam Martinez and Deb Schultz at the batch auditions this show cast from, having worked with both before.
Have you seen the Crimes of the Heart movie? (We're learning that most of your castmates have not!)
Never!!! Just a commercial, via YouTube. Maybe once we're done I'll give in to curiosity.
What do you like to do when you're not at theatre?
I am a self-proclaimed plant lady and crochet fan. It's getting warm again, but if you like yarn things, I can HOOK you up.
Do you have any dream roles?
Amazingly enough, I have gotten to tackle several that were always on the list! I would like to take a crack at Johanna (Sweeney Todd) or Christine (Phantom, any version) someday. I'm also hungry to be in a farce again. The joke is that I usually die (or try to) in the roles I play, especially if singing, so it's a nice change to survive. I like to surprise. Sopranos, ingenues, or 20-somethings: hit me up.
Get tickets to Crimes of the Heart, running through March 25, 2018.
Photos: All are of Kristen in the following shows (from top to bottom). Crimes of the Heart (Babe, 2018), Into the Woods (Rapunzel, 2015), Lend Me a Tenor (2015), Amadeus (2016).