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College players grow with ‘Laramie’

Margaret Aston

“The Laramie Project,” as performed by the Glendale College Theatre

Arts Department, was a three-hour, drawn-out theatrical experience.

While it was an admirable play for the college to undertake, it

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proved a daunting challenge for the student actors.

Written by award-winning playwright Moises Kaufman, the play

revolves around the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew

Shepard in the small town of Laramie, Wyo., and the devastating

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effects the hate crime has on residents of the town.

Even though the production was tenaciously long, actors Brian

Keith Price and Aaron Foley definitely shined on opening night.

Price had wonderful projection in several roles, which was a rarity

among his other fellow actors, and he delved deep into his

characters’ idiosyncrasies and mannerisms, giving them life.

Foley, also cast in several roles, clearly loved being on stage,

and it was a pleasure to see an actor with such enthusiasm for his

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craft. Maggie Mollett was notable as the sheriff’s deputy, who tried

to revive a dying Shepard.

Most enjoyable and quite visually interesting was the superbly

minimalist stage design created by Guido Girardi and Rich Scolari.

The sets, composed only of abstract, white canvas shapes superimposed

with quietly subversive slides of images that were equal parts art

and photographic narrative, served well to transport the audience

into the town and buildings of Laramie.

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Overall, the production suffered from opening-night jitters and

technical glitches. The delivery of lines both in the enunciation,

projection and cadence were definitely a problem for many in the

cast. Obscuring the actors further were poor lighting and a faulty,

blaring speaker that drowned them out.

However, all that can be forgiven when looking at the bigger

picture and realizing the challenge that these student actors took to

bring the emotionally sensitive and politically charged production to

the stage.

The Glendale College production took on an expansive project that

will benefit the student actors as they discover the arc of their

characters and put their own stamp of individuality on the play.

It was a pleasure to see “The Laramie Project” in a local college

theater production, and it might well be worth going back again just

to see what growth and improvements these young actors make in their

three-week run.


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