In Laramie, Wyoming, the bloodshed of Matthew Shepard still lingers in the lives of citizens. The ever haunting history came to life in Interboro High School's production of Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project.
Based on true events of Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder by two young men, the play is a compilation of Tectonic Theater Project members' interviews with citizens of Laramie, journal entries, and news reports all responding to the murder of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. Shepard's murder generated national dialogue regarding hate crime laws, homophobia, and tolerance.
Standouts among the cast included Jeff Ebner, who not only seamlessly transitioned into different characters with ease, but also genuinely portrayed homophobic Reverend Fred Phelps. Additionally, Matt Simmons skillfully morphed from Moises Kaufman into killer Aaron McKinney within seconds. Natalie Dupont, who portrayed Romaine Patterson, one of Shepard's close friends, commanded the stage with her raw emotion and great diction.
Other standouts included Paul Bilardo as Aaron Kriefels, who gave the audience goosebumps with his retelling of how he found Matthew Shepard. As Doc O' Connor, Dorian Bean brought light to this dark tale with subtle comic relief.
The ensemble took on the challenge of portraying multiple roles, but all easily delved into various characters throughout the play. Most actors could be heard clearly, but some struggled with diction and projection. The most poignant moment came when the cast sang Amazing Grace, which overlapped Reverend Fred Phelps' anti-gay slurs during Matthew Shepard's funeral. The ensemble's singing brought chills down the audiences' spines.
The minimal set allowed for intimacy between the audience and actors. Simple lighting let audience members focus on the actors, although the light was occasionally too dim. Effective set changes and costume changes were made by the cast with ease. The slideshow about the 1998 murder and subsequent trial prior to the show and during intermission added to the show's tone. After the show, the cast addressed Matthew Shepard's death through talkback sessions with the audience to further the message of tolerance and diversity.