John Hemphill Discusses “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time John Hemphill

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre through July 30th. Get tickets here. For more information about the performance please check out our previous piece on the show, here.

What made you want to become an actor?
It is a combination of things. I think the first time I remember really experiencing anything was in the third grade in “The Great Pumpkin Caper.” I played the Lawyer/Skeleton. I just thought this is really awesome. Well, for as much as a third grader can understand. I grew up watching all sorts of shows and famous actors. I just really admired that talent of being able to make people laugh. All those things just kind of combined to inspire me to want to explore my place in that world. It actually happened quite late for me. I didn’t actually study acting until after college. I actually majored in International Political Economics at the University of Washington. So it was quite a leap from there to acting. When I got out of school it was just something I wanted to explore.

You have been in some really interesting production like; “Mamma Mia,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” and “School of Rock.” Do you have a dream role you want to play?
I always have a hard time answering that one. I always end up saying that my dream role hasn’t been created yet. The thrill for me would be to originate a character in a production, something new that I could imprint John Hemphill and my talents on. That being said, I would love to play George in “Sunday in the Park with George.” I am getting a little long in the tooth for it, but I would love that role. It is a wonderful show and a really special score.

What has been your favorite role so far and what did you take away from it?
It is a tough question because each is such a unique experience. I would have to say that my first time on the Broadway stage was really special. That was in “Mamma Mia” and I got to play Sam. It was the tenth anniversary of the show.

Adam Langdon as Christopher Boone and the touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Adam Langdon as Christopher Boone and the touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo: Joan Marcus.

What attracted you to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”?
I read the book back in 2003. It has always been one of my favorite reads in the last twenty years. Then, to see what they made of it. I knew it was a special production. To be able to work with the creative from the National Theater was really special. It is a theater nerds dream. I knew it was going to be a great challenge. The work means so much to people.

Do you think they captured the essence of the book?
They really did. Mark Haddon didn’t really believe it would be able to be made into anything. He had been approached a number of times for people who wanted to make it into a film or play. Nobody could figure out how to make it work, though. Simon Stephens said let me give it a try. He really broke down the book piece by piece. A lot of the book takes place in Christopher’s mind. Stephens really built this framework for Christopher to tell this story and really go on this journey. It works really well. You get the feeling of Christopher’s mind through the sound and set design. As a reader of the book, I think they nailed it in an innovative and creative way.

How would you describe your character?
(Laughter) My character Roger is a bit of the antagonist. He is Christopher’s first suspect in the murder of the neighbor’s dog. Christopher is trying to find out who killed Wellington. My character divorced his wife and moved away. As an actor, I never really want to say that someone is a bad person. They are just misunderstood or not heard. I do think there is some conflict with Roger. He is a guy that just wants to live his life. I wouldn’t call him selfish but he has his own priorities. Christopher doesn’t fit into those priorities at all.

What is your favorite part of the production?
I think it would be the ensemble pieces with Christopher. We all come together physically to help him tell this story.

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About Earle Dutton

Earle Dutton is the Chief Blogger and Editor of Equality365.com. He founded Equality365.com in 2013 to provide information about LGBTQ friendly events of interest, and to support LGBTQ entertainers and supportive artists who visit our community. Earle is a successful businessman in the Pacific Northwest has a long history of support for and involvement in, the Northwest LGBTQ community. His personal interests include: music, theater, pets, culinary arts and technology.

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