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SCT Presents Acclaimed Play--And Celebrates A 25th Anniversary

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Contemporary Theatre)
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Springfield Contemporary Theatre Managing Artistic Director Rick Dines, and actor Matt Huebner, joined us on “Arts News” to talk about the company’s current production, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” We also discussed SCT’s upcoming 25th Anniversary Gala.

The play was adapted from the Mark Haddon best-selling novel by Simon Stephens; it won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play, and prior to that the Olivier Award in London. Rick Dines called it “a fantastic adaptation of a really amazing novel. I remember when the novel first came out, it’s probably the only novel I can ever say I read in one sitting. I don’t think I intended to—I sat down and I could not put it down.  It is still to this day one of my favorite novels ever written. When I heard they were adapting it (for the stage), I went, ‘…I don’t think this will adapt!’ And by God, it did! It’s such a powerful piece of work.” He added, “Every performance to date has been sold out. We still have plenty of tickets for the rest of the run, but I recommend reservations.”

Playing the lead role, 15-year old Christopher, is 22-year-old Matt Huebner. The character is extraordinarily intelligent, especially at mathematics, but is ill-equipped to deal with everyday life. Christopher has never ventured beyond the end of his street; he detests being touched; suffers sensory overload; and distrusts strangers. While neither the novel or the play ever specifically indicate it, “it’s inferred that he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, closer to the lower-functioning (side).”  

The play opens just after midnight with Christopher finding himself standing over Wellington, his neighbor’s dog—Wellington has been killed, speared with a garden fork. Christopher is immediately under suspicion for killing Wellington, but believes he is innocent and sets out to prove it by turning detective.  According to Matt Huebner, Christopher “makes it his personal goal to figure out who killed this dog, because it’s his one personal connection with a creature aside from his (pet) rat—the only thing that he can physically touch that he understands.”

Christopher’s father is very much against his son’s quest, said Huebner. “His father wants to shelter him as much as possible, and make sure that the world is ready for him, and the world doesn’t react in a way that hurts him.” But by undertaking this journey, Christopher “is catapulted into the real world and has to face things that, as a ‘normal’ adult man, would be relatively easy to face—like riding a train for the first time.” But for 15-year-old Christopher, “it’s pretty extreme.”

Gretchen Teague directs a sizeable cast in the show, which contains a bit of adult language but “not really any other kind of content,” according to Rick Dines. “Matter of fact, we had three high school groups at the show last night, and quite honestly, they were enraptured with the production. There’s a reason it’s an international hit play—it’s really a brilliant, dynamic piece of theater. It’s highly, highly theatrical, highly imaginative. It’s not a ‘kitchen-sink realism’ piece of theater.” And he had Gretchen Teague in mind to direct it as soon as SCT learned they could acquire rights to produce the play.  “She was thrilled that I wasn’t thinking of doing it myself!”

"Curious Incident" runs Thursday through Saturday nights at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through Sept. 22. Tickets are $27 adults, $24 students and seniors age 55 and up. Thursdays are Pay What You Can.  There will be a post-show Talkback discussions with director and cast following the Sunday Sept 15 performance. 

In some capacity or other, Rick Dines has been with Springfield Contemporary Theatre for 24 of its first 25 years of existence.  And in honor of Springfield Contemporary Theatre’s Silver Anniversary Season, a celebratory gala event will be held Saturday, September 28 at the Old Glass Place, 521 E St Louis Street. Dines promised it would be “a big celebration, a big party, we’ve got quite an evening of entertainment put together.” The evening will be hosted by Academy Award nominee Tess Harper (“Crimes of the Heart,” “Breaking Bad”), and Los Angeles actor Jack Laufer (“Mad Men,” “Masters of Sex”). The event kicks off at 6:30pm with a cocktail hour with food provided by leading restaurants and Springfield chefs, and a cash bar. SCT Resident Music Director Alex Huff then leads a special concert celebrating SCT's 25-year history, with music spanning the Vandivort Center Theatre years through more recent productions from SCT Center Stage. The evening features performances by Kim Crosby (Broadway’s “Into the Woods”), Seth Dylan Hunt, Johnnie Angelia King, Ryan Thomas King, James Brandon Martin, Kelly Osborne, Carol Reinert, Jennifer Shaver-Armstrong, Erica Spyres (Broadway revival of “Carousel”) and other special guests. Single tickets are available for $100, or you can sponsor a table of 10 for $1000. Also, the gala will offer some exciting news about the next chapter in SCT's future – and you can be among the first to hear about it at SCT's 25th Anniversary Gala. For information and tickets, visit www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org or call 831-8001.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning "Arts News." Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Ozzie Award" in 2006.