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Gaslight Baker Theatre uses multimedia integration in new show

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The Gaslight Baker Theatre has a new toy. You may have heard movies are back, but what you may not know is that this new film projector has allowed them to do the tech-heavy show The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

To debut this new toy, Director Tam Francis, current GBT president, assembled a talented team with unique skills to utilize the new equipment: Sondra Schaible as Assistant Director, Tim Peterson as Video & Animations Director, Luke Jenkins as Dramaturg, and Alan Krumm and Ashley Davidson as Lighting & Sound Directors.

Not only is the staging and multimedia integration new for GBT, but Francis and Jenkins have created an educational experience for the patrons. Francis found most of the public largely uninformed in the area of autistic spectrum disorders. The character of Christopher provides a unique opportunity to increase awareness and highlight the gifts they bring to the world. But Curious Incident is not only the story of a child on the autistic spectrum. Although the story is told through Christopher’s point of view—play within a play—the theme is one everyone who has faced adversity can relate to. 

Based on the novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens, fifteen-year-old Christopher is exceptional at mathematics but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched, and he distrusts strangers. Finding himself under suspicion for the murder of the neighbor’s dog, Christopher is determined to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington, and he carefully records each fact of the crime. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a thrilling journey that upturns his world. Chas Francis sensitively and beautifully portrays Christopher without sensationalizing his autistic traits.

Curious Incident plays with a nonlinear timeline. ACT ONE takes place predominately in the small town of Swindon through Christopher’s remembrances as he wrote his book. Animation Director, Tim Peterson, cleverly uses imagery to set the tone and suggest locations that are never intrusive or overdone. ACT TWO takes place at various locations from Swindon to London and back again with Tam Francis’s unique use of costume and prop color, staging that at times resembles dance, and perfectly timed pacing that allows the audience to experience Christopher’s inner turmoil as he moves through the unfamiliar terrain.

The character arcs of Judy, Christopher’s mother (Dawn Wright Calvert) and Ed, Christopher’s father (Ben White), are perfect. We see their growth as flawed human beings from their bad parenting and angry outbursts, watching them gain control over their emotions and mature as they find a way to do what’s best for Christopher, coming together to co-parent. Inspiring. We rejoice with Christopher (Chas) as he too, grows and ultimately triumphs, pushing through his personal pain and difficulties. All three actors show us the high-highs and the low-lows, and it’s breath-taking.

Each ensemble actor, Melissa Hardaway, Robyn Gamill, Ella McCarthy, Mike Blackwell, Tifani Pust, Joseph Gonzales, Michael Vybiral, and Emma Utzinger, has created and crafted believable and memorable characters, adding to the comic relief needed to balance the heavier dramatic scenes. Each ensemble player will undoubtedly leave the audience with hilarious moments and standout performances to talk about on their way home.

Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher (Denise Riendeau) steers the ship and keeps our moral compass pointed at compassion and patience. A caring person shines through Riendeau heartfelt performance.

Opening weekend found patrons praising this unique, ground-breaking play:

“What an outstanding production and wonderful night of theatre. Rush to the Gaslight-Baker to see, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. ~ Jaston Williams, playwright & actor 

“My husband and I just got home from Saturday night’s performance. We are absolutely blown away by this production. It is by and large one of the best productions we’ve seen here at the Baker. The Direction was incredible. The cast was superb. The tech involved in this play was unmatched. The storyline draws you in to the world of autism. It’s a must see production.”   ~Beth Peninger-Coyle, artist, actor, philosopher   

“That was a great performance. Well executed, tech was very balanced, and great acting. I’m so proud of Chas Francis taking on such a complicated role and not over doing it. Tim Peterson did a great job on projections. Mom, (Dawn Wright Calvert), was awesome. Super impressed by the quality and overall cohesiveness! Really smart staging, too!” ~ Kenedi Worthington LHS Theatre Arts Director 

“I’ve read the play and it’s a poignant portrayal of a young man with autism (we called it Asperger’s). I’m already impressed with the information about it posted in the theater lobby. Just, wow!  This play did not disappoint! Sensitive portrayals and a lovely story. Take a trip to Lockhart! Some of the content can be a little difficult if you’ve lived it, yes, but it’s done so beautifully it’s worth some feelings floating up. It does what theater is supposed to do without “objectifying” the subject.” ~Melinda Ellisor, actor

Upcoming dates and times:

Friday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.

Saturday Oct. 26 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Tickets will cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (60+) and veterans and $7 for students (up to 24 with ID)

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