(PCM) Spending an evening with Adam Langdon in the leading role for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is truly a transformative experience for the senses.
The 24-year-old actor from Brooklyn began his thrilling national tour in September, portraying 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a boy who learns and communicates differently than many of us do, yet he has numerous life lessons to share with everyone who crosses his path.
This emotional story is making a big local splash since it is part of the Broadway Philadelphia series playing at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music from Feb. 28-March 5; while at the same time the novel is the focus of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s “One Book, One Philadelphia 2017” program through March 23. The book has also been chosen as the featured book selection for many other cities around the nation.
The 2003 mystery novel was written by British author Mark Haddon, and adapted into a stunning and life changing play by Simon Stephens, that went on to win five Tony Awards in 2015, including best play. The title of the book and the play quotes the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story “Silver Blaze.”
The author has been lauded for imagining a new kind of hero, and for showing all of us that the best lives are lived when our differences are cherished, and those themes persist in the play.
The character of Christopher has an extraordinary brain, yet despite his exceptional intelligence, he is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life, reminiscent of many teens on the autism spectrum.
The math and science concepts he can grasp would make him on a trajectory to become an astronaut or a research scientist, but for his lack of ability to communicate effectively or socialize and his disdain for being touched, stand in the way.
When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to a journey that will change his life forever.
Langdon has performed in several regional theater productions, as well as on TV’s “The Good Wife,” and is co-star and co-creator of the web series, “Moe and Jerryweather.”
Langdon said he first read the book when it was published, after it was recommended by his British mother, and it was a time when the actor was just a few years younger than his character.
The show is bold, emotional and unique. It is a rare glimpse inside the mind of this boy who grapples with sensory processing overload in so many areas of his life, yet he is brave enough to go on a difficult train trip alone, learn forgiveness for those who disappoint him, and fight for his right to be the best that he can be, especially in the areas in which he excels.
Watching “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” one cannot help cheer for Christopher, the young man portraying his complicated journey, and the reflections that we see in ourselves.
PCM: So what is it about this story that strikes a chord with everyone?
ADAM LANGDON: The themes really resonate. One of the themes I see, and what people get out of it, is embracing and celebrating difference, and showing this difference in a complete way. It leads all of us be more accepting.
PCM: The role of Christopher is physically and emotionally demanding, and the sheer volume of material to memorize would seem a bit staggering. So how do you remember these staggering number of lines?
AL: The moment I became involved with this show it wasn’t the lines that concerned me. My biggest fear coming into it was the physical aspect, because I never considered myself as having the physical stamina that the play required. The people who put the movement together, Frantic Assembly, were so patient, that it all came together very well for me. I also feel that the bravery Christopher has really requires everyone in the show to be brave.
PCM: What has been one unexpected positive benefit of doing the show?
AL: I have had the opportunity talk to many parents and teachers of individuals on the spectrum. When I hear all of those heart-felt reactions it makes all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we spill over this show, totally worth it.
PCM: It is well known that audience members are heard weeping during some scenes and cheering in others. Tell me why you feel that people should see this play?
AL: There is really no other play like this. It is sort of like “Hamlet” combined with “Cirque du Soleil,” and so much more. Everyone can connect with this show, and I believe it is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
PCM: How important has the support from your parents, Alan and Deborah, been in regard to your education and career?
AL: I could not have done it without them. They have always been the most supportive parents in the world. My mom is an actress and my dad is an acting teacher. My mom was key on finding me the right summer programs and helping me apply to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, while my dad encouraged me to audition for Julliard. They said wherever I ended up was the right place for me to be,
PCM: Getting into Julliard must have been quite an endeavor, please tell me how it went?
AL: The audition process is really intense. There was a lot of waiting around. The final part of the process involved three days of taking actual classes. They were trying to put together a group of 18 people who were going to become a great company. They wanted people of different ages and backgrounds, as well as people like me were right out of high school.
PCM: Had you read the book before becoming involved with the show?
AL: Yes. I read the book when it first came out at the age of 12 or 13. My mom is a Brit, so she knew the book. I watched the Tony Awards when it won five awards and I auditioned to replace Alex Sharp on Broadway. It was not a great audition but they remembered me and brought me back for the tour.
PCM: How do you view your future?
AL: I love being an actor, so really it’s about whatever the world is able to give me. If it’s a Broadway show, a TV show, or a break in the movies. I grew up on classic movies. I would like the next step. I love to work, and I have written some scripts and had meetings with producers and directors about some of them. It is a huge process to get a film made. The budget of $500,000 is nothing in the film world; yet it is everything to a 24-year-old.
PCM: What is your advice to younger actors who want to follow in your footsteps?
AL: You need to be confident that where you are in the moment is where you need to be. You must be 100 percent involved in your pursuit!
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is playing at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music through March 5.
Tickets: www.kimmelcenter.org or call, 215-893-3333.