Marge Murray (Lynn Geyer) reaches out to her daughter, Reggie Fluty (Christie Flynn), in a poignant moment during Pierce College Theatre’s production of “The Laramie Project.” Photo by Maralu Hall.
The Pierce College Drama Department has a history and well-known tradition of presenting outstanding entertainment in cutting edge drama and classical theatre. They have done it again!
“The Laramie Project,” by Moises Kaufman, is acknowledged by many theatre buffs to be one of the most powerful and unique scripts written within the last ten years. Pierce College Drama Department’s Patrick Daugherty, with his ensemble cast of students, staff members, community volunteers and even a few ESL students meet or exceed all expectations in their current, outstanding presentation.
The play concerns the notorious 1998 brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, and the reactions of the citizens of Laramie during its aftermath. In Kaufman’s words, this hate crime “was an event which brought the various ideologies and beliefs prevailing in the culture into sharp focus,” as the victim was an acknowledged homosexual.
The script is based on history and real people, having their comments quoted for the effect of drama on a theatre audience, but these hurtful opinions still sting with the burning power of ever-present truth.
The “ensemble cast” type presentation, which tends to equalize the importance of all cast members, is perfect for the subject matter, as the dramatic moments leave the audience horrified, gasping for breath in shock, laughing with comic relief and saddened to actual tears at varying times of the show. All individual performances need to be exceptionally well done in order to capture this much emotion with this much passion. They are!
Even so, some actors must be especially mentioned in order to give proper credit for their professionalism: Kim Hunsaker could not be more soul wrenching in his scene. Katie Wheeler, Christie Flynn, Lynn Geyer, Nyree Martinez, Nora Dudley, Andrea Grip, Les Price, Tom Lees, Blake York, Steve Casowitz and Martin Lobdell dominate when they are on stage; while Maggie Kelly, Whitney Blake, Maralu Hall, Kyle Trauba, Brian Bennett, Ricky Lindemuth, Josh Sniffen, Megan Monteer, Andrew Richards, Richard Brawley, Syreeta Cunningham, Homer Ozyazicioglu, Earl Sallade, Jordan Sosa, Yuson Park, Ken Maaz and Ron Schwartz give first-rate renditions, most of which are in multiple roles.
Some readers may tend to be daunted by the sheer number of cast members, especially after hearing that most of them play multiple parts. Please believe me when I tell you that this play is definitely not confusing! It is aimed and on target! It is a solid plot that will remain with you long after you leave the theatre.
“The Laramie Project” continues at the Pierce College Theatre March 1 at 10 a.m. and March 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. For reservations call the theatre box office at (253) 964-6710.
– Submitted by Jim McDaniel