The following is a guest blog post by Frances Egler, who serves as the Director of Programming and Presentations at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Egler is responsible for booking the Broadway Philadelphia season for the Kimmel Center. In 2017, that series includes the stage adaptation of our One Book, One Philadelphia selection, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – truly a Philly affair!
Pulling together a Broadway season is like assembling a very large jigsaw puzzle. As Director of Programming and Presentations for the Kimmel Center, it is my responsibility to book the Broadway Philadelphia season each year. Starting one to two years in advance, I contact agents in New York City who represent the tours that will be traveling North America in the upcoming seasons. The goal is to bring the best and newest of touring Broadway to Philadelphia, working to make the tour’s travel route match when our theaters are available to present the shows.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the rare Broadway play that will also tour the United States. Most plays that have successful runs on Broadway rely on star power to sell tickets, and performers such as Al Pacino or Cate Blanchett are not available to travel the country.
Curious Incident is a different kind of play. Like the last play to tour successfully, War Horse, the production is based on a well-known young adult novel, and the original production of the show started in London at the Royal National Theatre. Using the book by Mark Haddon as its foundation, Curious Incident tells the story of Christopher, a young man with fantastic gifts when it comes to math as well as exceptional challenges when it comes to relating to other people. The play creates the world that Christopher lives in using a combination of amazing physical acting and a unique stage setting and lighting. The story is told from Christopher’s point of view, same as it is in the novel. As the audience sits in the theater and watches the narrative unfold, it experiences the events of Christopher’s story as he does. It is quite an emotional experience to watch a young man attempt to solve the mystery of his neighbor’s dog, and also try to overcome his own personal challenges and connect with those around him in the process.
I had the opportunity to see Curious Incident twice on Broadway: once with an adult friend and once with my 13-year-old niece, who was seeing a Broadway play for the first time. Both of my theater companions loved the show, as did I. Both times, the audience gave a standing ovation. When the production won numerous Tony Awards, including "Best Play", I knew that this was a show that Philadelphia audiences should experience as well.
Curious Incident ran for a year on Broadway, playing to over 750,000 people before closing in September, 2016. The tour of Curious Incident began in October, 2016, and over 200,000 people around the country will have seen the tour before it reaches Philadelphia in February, 2017. We are excited to partner with the Free Library of Philadelphia to be able to deepen the audience’s experience and understanding of the Curious Incident by connecting people to the wonderful novel that is the starting point for such a unique play. We hope you can experience both the novel and the production at the Academy this winter! For more information about the play, please visit the Kimmel Center online or call 215-893-1999.
**Check back every #OneBookWednesday during the Reading Period for some more One Book food-for-thought!**