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Published: Thursday, 3/7/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Toledo Rep to present ‘Laramie’ docu-dramas

Stories are based on the 1998 hate-crime killing of gay college student Matthew Shepard

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Connor Gavin plays Russell Henderson, left, being interviewed in jail by character Stephen Belber, played by Scott Heuerman, during rehearsal for the Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre. Connor Gavin plays Russell Henderson, left, being interviewed in jail by character Stephen Belber, played by Scott Heuerman, during rehearsal for the Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
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The Toledo Repertoire Theatre is tackling a tough subject in two actor-challenging performances this weekend as it presents The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later on its 10th Street Stage.

“Matthew Shepard died October 12 [1998]. He was brutally beaten October 6 [1998]. In The Laramie Project they looked at the very people in the town grappling not only with the death of this young man... but somebody who had been beaten by members of the community,” said director Rosie Best.

Shepard, a gay college student, was tortured and later died from the injuries in Laramie, Wyo.

“This is a transformative moment in history in that it took 10 years, but it did lead in some measure to hate crime legislation which ended up being called the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.”

The Rep will present the docu-dramas in succession. “Sleepless nights, a lot of coffee, and dogged determination,” have kept Best on course to expose audiences to “a legitimate story that needs to be told,” she said.

“It’s a huge acting challenge I think our actors have embraced fully,” Best said. The 13 actors play 102 named characters. Included in the cast are Heath Huber, Pat Rudes, Connor Gavin, and Christy Lanning.

Costumes are basic black. An accent, a jacket, or simple prop such as a cycling helmet or a pen will help audience members distinguish between characters.

Best recommends audiences see Laramie before watching the second show. Each play runs about two hours and 15 minutes.

“The Laramie Project” will be performed at 8 tonight and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St. Tickets are $15 for each production and $25 for both. Information: 419-243-9277 or toledorep.org.

‘Born Yesterday’

Barbara Barkan, who played a seemingly dim-witted blonde in 1975, will direct her daughter in the same role as the Village Players this weekend opens Born Yesterday on its Upton Avenue stage.

“At this point in my life I have two major loves and passions: one of them is theater and one of them is my daughter. The fact I can put the two of them together in one place is a total and complete dream for me,” Barkan said.

Thea Grabiec as Billie Dawn will be educated about the ways of the world, and in turn, might teach her businessman fiance a thing or two in this screwball comedy. Joe Capucini as Harry Brock is the businessman who hires Matthew Gretzinger as Paul Verrall, a journalist to teach Dawn. Carol Ann Erford and Ed Burnham, who will perform in the show this weekend, also had roles in the 1975 Toledo Repertoire production.

“Born Yesterday” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, and Saturday through March 23 at the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. March 14 and March 21 and at 2 p.m. March 17. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors and students. Information: 419-472-6817 or thevillageplayers.org.

Corny Comedy

Corny Beef and Cabaret celebrates its 10th anniversary show at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at B Gumps Restaurant & Lounge 101, 5147 Main St., Sylvania.

Tickets are $15 for this zany show with a specially selected Irish menu. Doors open at 4 p.m. Information: 419-517-2199.

Road Trip

ARCHBOLD — A son trying to find the proper place for his father’s ashes winds up on a road trip this weekend as Archbold Community Theatre opens Leaving Iowa.

A middle-aged writer is returning to his grandmother’s old farm to honor his father’s request. He takes to the road and a trip down memory lane in this comedic tribute to the beloved or dreaded road trip.

“Leaving Iowa” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday through March 16 and at 2:30 p.m. March 17 in Giffey Hall, 20369 County Rd. X, Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. Advance tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Tickets at the door are $10. Information: 419-267-5717 or archboldcommunitytheatre.com.

Please send theater items at least two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com



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