Rebecca Wisocky, a Dallastown Area High School graduate, stars on Lifetime’s new show ’Devious Maids.’
Rebecca Wisocky, a Dallastown Area High School graduate, stars on Lifetime's new show 'Devious Maids.' (LIFETIME )
It begins with a murder.

The crime rocks Beverly Hills' elite and their help in the new Lifetime show "Devious Maids," which premieres tonight.

"It's delicious," said cast member Rebecca Wisocky during a recent phone interview. "It's a soap opera. It's satire."

Wisocky, who grew up in York County and graduated from Dallastown Area High School, stars as Evelyn Powell.

The character is among the ladies who lunch, gossip and host parties in 90210. But the group that's actually in charge is their Latina maids.

Marc Cherry, who created the hit Sunday night soap "Desperate Housewives," started to develop "Devious Maids" in early 2012. Wisocky made a brief appearance on "Housewives" just weeks before she auditioned for "Devious Maids." She said "Housewives" fans will eat up the new Lifetime series.

The shows' have some similarities, including a murder mystery, twisting plot and large ensemble cast.

"I think people will find it to be a ... guilty pleasure," Wisocky said of "Devious Maids." "But it becomes more complex."

In other ways, the new drama is notably different from other TV fare. The spine of the show is about the maids and their relationships with each other and their rich and morally questionable employers. "The Help" and "Downton Abbey" take that point of view, but "Maids" brings up questions of class, race and gender in a present-day setting.

"It's time for there to be more people of color and women as leads on TV shows," Wisocky said. "That's great if (this show) can participate in this conversation."

The cast is one of Wisocky's favorite parts of the show. It includes seasoned soap star Susan Lucci as well as familiar TV faces Ana Ortiz and Judy Reyes. They all spent five months shooting the first season in Atlanta.

"It's a great group of people," Wisocky said. "It was like summer camp. We like each other, and it shows."

She added that she hopes audiences love to hate Evelyn Powell.

Rebecca Wisocky
Rebecca Wisocky (PHOTO BY TONY DONALDSON)
The character, who lives in one of five households featured on the show, starts out severe and icy. As the season progresses, she softens, and the audience will see what's hiding under her cold armor, Wisocky said.

"The show is kind of outsized and a little bit over the top, but the characters all have real and complex lives," she added.

Even at a young age, Wisocky found complex characters appealing. Her parents brought her to York Little Theatre. There, she went from shy child to budding thespian, taking on several productions a year. She said she loved the teamwork involved in putting on a show.

In sixth grade, she was so tall that she was mistaken for a substitute teacher. From then on, Wisocky said, she was drawn to playing foreboding figures. She attended New York University and took on stage roles as strong, misunderstood females, including Medea, Lady Macbeth and Madame Defarge.

"It's a challenge to find way to empathize with a villain (and) create a villain that is not a caricature," she said. "I like playing characters who get punished for their hubris. I don't mind being unlikable or unattractive for a minute to tell a joke or to tell a story."

Wisocky knows what's in store for Evelyn Powell -- through the first season of "Devious Maids" at least. But audiences will have to tune in to find out what happens.

"It's very funny and relevant and, hopefully, it will be very entertaining," she said.

@FlipSidePA; 717-771-2051

If you watch

What: "Devious Maids" premiere

When: 10 p.m. June 23

Where: Lifetime

Plot: Go behind the scenes in Beverly Hills to meet the Latina maids who know all the dirty secrets of their wealthy employers.

Executive producers: Creator Marc Cherry, Sabrina Wind and Eva Longoria (all formerly worked on "Desperate Housewives")

Cast includes: Ana Ortiz ("Ugly Betty"), Judy Reyes ("Scrubs"), Edy Ganem ("Entourage"), Roselyn Sánchez ("Rush Hour 2"), Dania Ramírez ("Premium Rush"), Susan Lucci ("All My Children"), Melinda Page Hamilton ("Mad Men"), Rebecca Wisocky ("The Mentalist"), Grant Show ("Melrose Place") and Drew Van Acker ("Pretty Little Liars")

Details: www.mylifetime.com

On local theater and arts education:

Actress Rebecca Wisocky said she practically lived at York Little Theatre for 10 years.

"I was lucky enough to have parents to schlep me back and forth to auditions," she said.

She said that, like other community theaters, YLT represents a place where people from all across the community come together to do what they love.

Wisocky also attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts as a teen. The program, which was defunded and discontinued a few years ago, featured five-week summer academies for gifted high school students.

"It gave scholarships to kids across all disciplines at an important moment developmentally," Wisocky said. "I realized that I could make a life for myself as an artist."

She went onto to study acting in college and has found regular work between Los Angeles and New York City. But since her family still lives in York County, Wisocky still pays attention to the arts in the state.

"I know they are discussing the budget in the state legislature," she said. "I think (Governor's School) is something that's up for discussion. I hope that it's restored."

For more on arts education in Pennsylvania, visit www.artseducationpa.org.