Alex Sharp is from Devon, England and had no theater training until he was accepted into Juilliard’s acting program. Last March the 25 year old auditioned for and was cast in Simon Stephens’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” before he even graduated. Last night he became an overnight star. (PS His girlfriend, also, from his Juilliard class, is Wallis Currie- Wood, currently playing Tea Leoni’s daughter on “Madame Secretary.”)
Sharp is just stunning in the American production of Marianne Elliott’s directed hit from the West End. He plays 15 year old Christoper Boone, a math whiz with high function Asperger’s and maybe some autism as well. Based on Mark Haddon’s novel, “Curious Incident” follows Christopher’s unique saga as he navigates his parents’ marital problems and his own coming into the world. The story is enhanced by Elliott’s sensational presentation (she co-directed “War Horse”) and the astounding set. There is also quite a bit of movement and choreography, courtesy of the ubiquitous Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham.
What the whole company manages to convey is Christopher’s inner world, as crowds and flashing lights converge to overwhelm him. He seeks safety in numbers, and in the second act the plot is set: despite many obstacles, he wants to jump ahead and take math tests for 18 year olds. That will put him on the fast track to becoming a star prodigy scientist.
Last night’s cheering audience included Tyne Daly, playwright John Guare, Kim Cattrall, and several cast members of “Madam Secretary.” Young Alex Sharp had five friends from Devon to cheer him on. Now he will have six months to prepare for Tony Award buzz and the dizzying business of being very much in demand. One day “Curious Incident” will become a movie, which is too bad since it really is a theatrical experience. Congrats to Stuart Thompson, the National Theater of London, and Warner Theatrical for pulling it off.
See you next June!