Willard Leads in “The Curious Incident”


Laura Doughton, Online Editor

By Laura Doughton

This fall Reynolds did a production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It focuses on the journey of Christopher, a 15 year old boy on the autism spectrum, who is trying to solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog.

   Nick Zayas, the director of the show, was excited to produce “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

   “It’s a fantastic play,” Zayas said. “It’s a great story, I think it’s a really unique challenge for actors and for designers. It’s based on an incredibly popular book that I think appeals to a lot of people. Furthermore, it really captures the theme of this year, which is bridging connections… It really kind of gives you a  glimpse into a mindset that may be different from yours.”

   Freshman Austin Willard had the undertaking of the role of Christopher, a daunting task, but one he was ready to take on with no hesitation.

   “It’s more unique than any other character that I’ve ever played,” Willard said. “I mean Christopher’s totally different from me, not just him being on the spectrum but his emotions, his thoughts, his personality. So it took a lot to get into his mind, make the character, and it was honestly just a thrill.”

   Willard’s role was not the only difficult character to play. Christopher’s mother, Judy, was played by sophomore Abigail Culpepper.

  “We made the choice that she’s a young mom which means she’s struggling to grow up type thing because Christopher’s on the spectrum. It’s really cool to have a character with that much emotional depth to play into,” Culpepper said.

   The cast was fairly young this year. This provided challenges that they had to overcome together.

   “I think at the beginning we were all trying to find the tone of the piece together and them being such talented young actors they found it pretty quickly and gelled together as a cast really quickly,” Zayas said. “So it’s been awesome to see them grow as actors and grow into these characters. Some of the characters are really, really challenging to play and they’ve really stepped up to the plate in a cool way.”

   Having a cast that works well together is only part of the process, and there are bound to be slip ups every once in a while.

   “There was a scene where in one part of the play, in act one, where Siobhan is talking to me and I’m like building up a train set all over the stage,” Willard said about one rehearsal. “And I got so lost in the trains so I had no idea where the play was going, where the lines were going. I just totally lost where I was at.”

   The cast made it through all the challenges and put on a fantastic show. The cast learned some lessons throughout the process but there are lessons they hope to have left the audience with as well.

   “I want people to see that despite differences and despite problems you go through, there’s always hope,” Culpepper said. “There’s ways to overcome your problems and your obstacles no matter how difficult they are.”

Photo Provided by Creative Commons