Best Cast - 2002
The Laramie Project
Beautiful, big-skied Laramie, Wyoming, was the place where gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered. It's also the backdrop for Moises Kaufman's powerful docudrama, The Laramie Project, based on interviews with 60 townspeople who lived in the Midwestern town. This past January, at Stages Repertory Theatre, Rob Bundy directed eight of Houston's most appealing actors through the story. To the audiences' amazement, the tiny talented group rendered all 60 characters with astonishing grace. Each character was sketched in quick, lithe strokes of words and mannerisms. And each resonated with truthful poignancy or gut-punching brutality. Especially memorable is Drake Simpson's motor-mouthed bartender, and Corby Sullivan's Andrew Gomez, a saggy-pantsed punk who shared a cell with Shepard's killer. Rutherford Cravens was unforgettable as the plain-spoken taxi driver who said, "Never fuck with a Wyoming queer." Kelli Cousins, Kara Greenberg, Daniel Magill, Ann C. James and Connie Cooper also worked with precision timing and moving generosity. This group of eight brought a whole town to life, giving each character the plain dignity and tender mercy that everyone deserves.