If you’ve seen “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” on Broadway, London, or elsewhere in the U.S. or even on film, you can expect Zoetic Stage to present a completely different production, as director Stuart Meltzer had to create his new production virtually from scratch.
But, that, says Meltzer, makes it perfect for a Zoetic production.
“Because this play is so specific on how it is done, you are not allowed to copy the director’s work, and I wouldn’t want to. I try to have a fresh and open interpretation and I wouldn’t want to be married to anyone else’s ideas,” says Meltzer.
The script, adapted from Mark Harron’s bestseller, along with the convention of having the play take place completely inside the mind of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, remains the same as when the play debuted on Broadway in 2015, and garnered not only the Tony award for “best play,” but also more Tony nominations for any other play that year.
Described as “exceptionally intelligent but not equipped to deal with everyday life,” Christopher is confronted with a dilemma when he falls under suspicion of having killed a neighbor’s dog. He sets out to identify the true culprit, leading to an earth-shattering discovery that will change his life.
“I never saw the play on the stage, and I never saw it in the cinema, where it was broadcast a few years back, so this gave me and my actors a lot more freedom to discover and create,” says Meltzer, adding, “And this play is a piñata of creativity.”
The production stars Ryan Didato, a Carbonell award-nominated actor, whose many regional theater credits include several productions at GableStage, Actor’s Playhouse, as well as appearing in Zoetic’s “Wrongful Death,” and “The Goldberg Variations,” at Island City Stage, which was also directed, as well as written, by Meltzer.
“I’ve known Ryan for a number of years and, even though he’s older than Christopher, he still looks young, and he’s got so much youth coming out of him. He’s also physical actor, and he cares so deeply about his roles, that he doesn’t have an ego that gets in the way. He’s game for anything,” says Meltzer.
This is the first starring role for Didato, who was an acting student of Meltzer’s when he was studying for his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of Florida/New World School of the Arts.
A Connecticut native, Didato’s family moved around before settling in Panama City, Fla. He came to Miami for school, did some theater here, and then went to New York City, to pursue an acting career there. But he and then-fiance Lauren, who is now his wife, decided to move back.
“When you’re in New York, you’re lucky if you can get a show, but in a place with a great theater community, you can work year ‘round, and we both realized we needed to be more creatively filled,” says Didato. (His wife, Lauren, will be seen in the Actor’s Playhouse’s production of “Memphis” in March).
Although Didato acknowledges that this is his first starring role, in that his character, Christopher," moves the action,” the success of the play depends on the rest of the cast, he says.
“This is a huge ensemble cast and everyone becomes what Christopher wants them to me. We did a run through the other day and, for me, it was like running a marathon while screaming and crying for two-and-a-half hours,” he says.
Stephen G. Anthony - A Carbonell-award winning actor who recently completed an off-Broadway run of “Real Mean,” the Musical,” and who has appeared in Zoetic’s production of “South Beach Babylon,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Passion.”
Niki Fridh - A Carbonell-award nominated actress who most recently appeared in Theater Lab’s productions of “Tar Beach, “Ronia: The Robber’s Daughter,” at Theatre Lab at Florida Atlantic University. She also appeared at Actor’s Playhouse, City Island Theater, and in Carbonell Award-winning production of “Rumors” at Broward Stage Door, among others.
Margery Lowe, who appears often in South Florida, as well as in New York and across the country in various national tours as well as at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the MUNY, Canadian Stage, and many more. A recipient of numerous nominations, she is a Carbonell Award winner, and has also been named the New Times Best Actress and Broadway World’s Best Actress.
Michael McKeever co-founded Zoetic Stage. He is an actor, playwright and designer, and the recipient of numerous Carbonell and Silver Palm Awards. His play “Daniel’s Husband,” just closed a critically acclaimed run in New York City.
Zack Myers is a Miami-based actor, director, playwright and comedian, he is the artistic associate and director of the Arts Radio Theater, with many regional South Florida credits to his name, as well as appearing in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” in Minneapolis.
Gretchen Porro is the winner of a Sarasota Magazine Critic’s Choice Award,” Porro has previously worked with FAU Theatre Lab, Thinking Cap Theater, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Island City Stage, and in many more theater companies.
Barbara Sloan was recently seen in GableStage’s “Admission,” Sloan is a six-time Carbonell nominee, and Silver Palm and a “New Times” recipient for Best Actress in a Drama.
Seth Trucks - South Florida credits include: Thinking Cap Theatre: “King Lear,” Stage Door Theatre: “La Cage Aux Folles,” Outré Theatre: “The Normal Heart,” “1984,” “Othello,” Florida Shakespeare Theatre: “Hamlet,” “Merchant of Venice,” and many more.
Rachael O’Hara - A senior in the BFA acting program at the New World School of the Arts, her credits include “Street Scene,” “Scapino!” and “The Orphan.”
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” runs Friday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Tickets may be purchased by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at www.arshtcenter.org.