The latest Broadway show to hit the Wharton Center stage features an unlikely detective — a 15-year old boy with an autism spectrum condition — investigating the murder of an unlikely victim — Wellington, his neighbor’s dog.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” based on Mark Haddon’s popular 2003 novel, tells the story of Christopher, the young man who uncovers a web a family lies in his quest to find the dog’s killer.
“Christopher is such a unique part,” said actor Adam Langdon, who plays Christopher in the touring show. “I was really trying to see what was human about him and what I wanted to bring and represent on stage.”
Langdon, a 24-year old Julliard graduate, remembers reading the book as a child. He turned to Christopher for inspiration when working through difficult scenes.
“One of the things that really got me through a lot of the physical work early on was, ‘You know what? Christopher is brave, so you have to brave, and you’re going to do this for him,’” Langdon said.
Christopher, who is never explicitly diagnosed in either the book or play, shows signs of being on the autism spectrum. While Christopher has difficulties interacting with certain people and situations, Langdon finds he still has typical traits of a teenager.
“I think he’s a little snarky but very smart and knows how to play it off, so it’s like, ‘No, I wasn’t being like that, I was just telling you that you’re wrong. And you are,’” Langdon said. “So I think that’s one of the things I really want to bring into him, that he’s just like everyone else at that age.”
To prepare for the role, Langdon met with three young men with autism spectrum disorders. This experience was important, Langdon said, because the condition can manifest itself in a variety of ways.
“It was just incredible,” he said. “It really allowed me to open up and think, ‘Yes, I can be my own Christopher,’ because these three young men have just shown me they’re individuals, and to think anything else would be a real dishonor to them.”
While the musical’s subject is serious, Langdon said the show will still satisfy theatergoers who love spectacle. It features intimate moments of human emotion while constantly keeping the audience on the edge of their seats with stunts like wall flips and actors suspended in the air.
“It’s like ‘Hamlet’ combined with Cirque du Soleil,” he said. “It’s incredible moments of crazy physicality. This is the most unique and incredible play that’s come around for a while, so it’ll be a great move for everybody to come and see this.”
— Diamond Henry
750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing (517) 432-2000, whartoncenter.com
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time”
6:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11-Thursday, April 13; 8 p.m. Friday, April 14; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 15; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 16 Tickets start at $41/$28 students Wharton Center