“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” Begins Performances

An Eventful London Run

the curious incident of the dog in the night-timeA new import from London’s National Theatre has begun performances on Broadway.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time took London by storm, first playing at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre from August 2, 2012 until late October 2012, when it transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre.  It ran at the Apollo until December 19, 2013, when the theatre’s roof collapsed, forcing performances to be postponed until June 24, 2014, when the show re-opened at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, where it is still presently running.  These incidents aside, the show has been proved a veritable hit.  It was nominated for eight Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of the Tonys), winning seven: those for Best New Play, Best Director for Marianne Elliott, Best Actor for Luke Treadaway, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Nicola Walker, Best Sound Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Set Design.  Now beginning September 10, 2014, this production under the helm of Marianne Elliott has transferred to Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre.  Its official opening night is scheduled for October 5, 2014.

A Sense of Wonder

Adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens (Punk Rock, Pornography, On the Shore of the Wide World), the play is based on a novel of the same name written by Mark Haddon in 2003.  It is the story of a 15 year-old boy named Christopher John Francis Boone, who is supposed to have some form of Asperger’s Syndrome, although this is never referred to in the play.  Rather, the character exhibits the characteristic asocial behavior of this condition, coupled with a remarkable sense of wonder regarding everything he experiences.  The incident denoted in the play’s title involves the murder of the dog of one of Christopher’s neighbors.  A sort of self-made Sherlock Holmes, Christopher takes it upon himself to solve this mystery.  Along the way, he ends up discovering facts about his own family that take him on an unexpected journey.  The play received intense acclaim for its delicate performances and brilliant design and staging.  It looks poised to perform as well in the transatlantic transfer as did its National Theatre predecessor, War Horse.

The American Cast

alex sharp

Alex Sharp

As the show is still running in the West End, it has transferred to the United States with an entirely new cast.  The principal role of 15 year-old Christopher is portrayed by 25 year-old recent Juilliard graduate Alex Sharp, making his Broadway debut.  Sharp has been documented saying that this was one of his mother’s favorite books, and thus he has long been very familiar with its story.  The rest of the main cast members are Helen Carey (Tony nominated for London Assurance), Ian Barford (August: Osage County), Francesca Faridany (Man and Boy), and Enid Graham (Dinner at Eight).  Additional cast members include Ben Horner (War Horse), Mercedes Herrero (The Laramie Project), Jocelyn Bioh (Off Broadway’s An Octoroon), Richard Hollis (Hit-Lit), and David Manis (War Horse).  Furthermore, the role of Christopher will occasionally be played by Taylor Trensch (Matilda the Musical).  Like in London, the show is directed by Marianne Elliott, who also directed War Horse.

UK’s National Theatre To Set Up Shop in New York

The United Kingdom’s National Theatre has enjoyed significant success in recent years with transfers of its hit London shows to Broadway.  Notable recent examples include the still-running War Horse and the just-closed comedy One Man, Two Guvnors.  It seems that hardly a Broadway season goes by that doesn’t feature at least one production that has transferred to New York after winning acclaim on the other side of the pond.  These limited-run productions, which usually enjoy equal acclaim from NYC critics, give Broadway audiences an opportunity to see some of Britain’s most talented performers live.

To keep up with the demand, the National Theatre has decided to establish an office in New York.  Up to this point, the National has worked with producing partners here in New York to help facilitate the Broadway productions, but having a “home office” in the U.S. will make it easier for the NT to monitor its North American ventures.  National Theatre executive director Nick Starr said in a press statement, “Establishing this office will allow us to build on existing relationships with American theatre companies, and to continue to foster a theatrical dialogue involving artists from both sides of the Atlantic.”

Despite the fact that the National Theatre was established for British citizens and receives funding from their taxes, it has become an international phenomenon.  Not only through its transfers to Broadway and other countries, but also through the success of its National Theatre Live broadcasts, in which London performances from the National stage are beamed to movie theaters around the globe.

War Horse Launches U.S. Tour

War Horse, the theatrical sensation currently playing in London’s West End, on Broadway in New York, and in Toronto, is finally going out on the road. The North American tour of War Horse has begun with an engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, where it will play until July 29. After the L.A. stop, War Horse will march on to numerous stops across the U.S., including San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis. A number of smaller cities, such as East Lansing, Tempe, Spokane, Fayetteville, and Appleton are also on the docket.

Based on the Michael Morpurgo novel (adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford), War Horse started as a huge hit for the National Theatre in London, going on to enjoy a successful Tony Award-winning production on Broadway at the Lincoln Center Theater.  In addition to the power of its World War I-era tale of a boy and his beloved horse, War Horse‘s main draw has been the phenomenal life-size (and life-like) puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company.

This past Christmas, director Steven Spielberg brought the story to a global movie-going audience with his adaptation of War Horse.  The film — which of course used real horses — was well-received and earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, but the stage adaptation still offers a uniquely theatrical experience that is likely to draw large audiences as it makes its way across the country.