La Porte High School’s (LPHS) young thespians took the stage on Friday night for the opening of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The production details the story of a young man on the autism spectrum as he engages in a hunt to unveil the murderer of a neighbor’s dog, navigates familial drama, and battles his own personal challenges.
The play is the first product of the La Porte High School Performing Arts Center crew since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when their activities were put on hold last year. Director Richard Snyder saw the play when the Broadway version came through Chicago on tour and had also taught the original, novel version to his AP literature class.
“This show is modern, relevant, and really engaging to students,” he said. “It’s come together very well. A lot of people might consider the show really high-tech, and while we don’t have the million dollar tech set-up, I think it’s a really well-done production and I’m proud of what the kids have accomplished.”
The show makes use of complex lighting, projectors, and a minimalist set to convey the innerworkings in the mind of Christopher Boone, the protagonist of the play. The core cast is small, but an ensemble crew works together to portray Boone’s emotions by closing in on him while he is stressed or crying out along with him in fear or anger. Aura Grott, who plays Boone, loved how the character plays with and challenges the stereotypes associated with autism or neurodivergence.
“You can see a lot of those stereotypes in him, but there’s also so many things you don’t usually stereotype an autistic person as,” he said. “Sure, he’s interested in very specific model making, math, and numbers. Yes, he has social issues, but he also loves his parents and family. He’s just interesting.”
Before Grott and the rest of the cast took the stage, they had all of the usual excitement of opening night – all of their hard work was finally coming to a head. But this year, after the COVID-19 layaway, there was an extra layer of emotion among the cast and crew.
“It’s really good to be able to make things together again,” Grott said. “We all had to be on our own and spend a lot of time with just ourselves. It’s still the same, but something about it feels different. We’re all putting pieces of ourselves and each other into this to make an actual thing that’s not just a vision in our director’s head.”
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” runs through the weekend with a 7:30 p.m. showing on Saturday, March 27 and a 2:00 p.m. showing on Sunday, March 28. Tickets are available at secure.payk12.com/school/_/271, and no tickets will be sold at the door. Seating arrangements are automatically socially distanced during the purchasing process.