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Neurodivergent representation front-center in upcoming UCM production


WARRENSBURG — University of Central Missouri Theatre and Dance present the 2015 Tony Award winning drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. 

Based on the best-selling book of the same name written by Mark Haddon and adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens, this play follows a neurodivergent boy as he tries to solve the mystery concerning the death of his neighbor’s dog. 

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain. He is exceptional at mathematics but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. 

Christopher has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. 

Now it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher stands beside his neighbor’s dead dog, Wellington, who has been speared with a garden fork. 

Finding himself under suspicion, Christopher is determined to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He carefully records each fact of the crime. 

His detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a thrilling journey that upturns his world.

“The play really allows us to see the world through the eyes of a character that we don’t often see in the theatre,” Director Mary Trotter said. “This makes the play unique because the audience gets to go on the journey with Christopher and experience the world as he sees it. It’s just a wonderfully written, wholly original script that is dramatic but joyful, heart-wrenching, funny and challenging. I don’t think our community will have ever seen anything like it.” 

The lead role of Christopher is played by Luke Habjan, a junior theatre technology major at UCM.  

“It’s a very important character to play because this is one of the first times I get to use my own neurodiversity as part of the character,” Habjan said. “This is Christopher’s story and this is what Christopher is.”  

On Sunday, Oct. 10th. UCM Theatre and Dance will present its first Pay-What-You-Can performance. Audiences may choose to pay any amount, $1 or above, for a ticket. UCM Theatre and Dance chair Ashley Miller-Scully said that she is excited about this new initiative, “As we invite the community to join us “Live on Stage” we want to ensure that financial limitations don’t keep people from the theatre - we really want our entire community to enjoy what we do here.”

Showtimes are:

  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 - to include an ASL interpreter
  • 2 p.m. Oct. 10  - UCM’s first Pay-What-You-Can show
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 - Sensory Sensitive Performance for anyone uncomfortable with drastic changes in lights and sound 
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 

An ASL interpreter will be provided for the Oct. 10 performance for anyone hearing impaired that would like to attend.  

The Sensory Sensitive Performance, Oct. 14, is a performance wherein lighting and sound cues are lightened so anyone uncomfortable with drastic changes can attend and enjoy the show. 

The cast includes: Habjan as Christopher, Hanna Wilson as Siobhan, Riley Given as Ed, Milly Ross as Judy, Gracie Heath as Voice One, Luke Englert as Voice Two/Ed Understudy, Sasha Fuller as Voice Three, Joseph Wandell as Voice Four, Isabella Bryn-Johnson as Voice Five and Anna Braman as Voice Six/Judy Understudy, Keyvon Lewis as Christopher Understudy and Quinn Allen as Male Role Understudy. 

The crew includes: Trotter, Stage Manager Madison Skiljan; Set Design Joseph Burkard; Lighting Design Kelsi Richardson; Costume Design Jennifer Van Buskirk; Sound Design Benjamin Gonzales; Hair and Makeup Design Allison Winsby, Projection Design Heath; Movement Choreographer/Dialect Coach Francesca Mintowt-Czyz, Autism Consultant Lisa Robbins; Props Master Wesley Freeman, assistant directors Kayla Gross and Mekdelawit Keller, Assistant Stage Manager/Deck Chief Owen Hopper, Assistant Scene Design Brittany Brandt, Assistant Costume Design Hollie Neumann, Assistant Sound Design Stephanie Heathcock; Costume Shop Staff Maryn Edwards, Neumann and Winsby, Wardrobe Head Edwards; Makeup Crew Makhi Thurman; Master Electrician Seth Sneary; Deck Chief Sapphire Engel; Run Crew Emma Dawson; Scene Shop Staff Brandt, Rachel Curry, Habjan, Seth Holt, Keller and Richardson; Sound Board Operator Molly Blackburn, Light Board Operator Steven Crockett; House Manager Holden Childress, Box Office Managers Alexis Kratz and Black Legens; Publicity and Marketing Director Aaron Scully; Publicity and Marketing Team THEA 4310 Theatre Management Class; Marketing Videographers John Cleaver, Kelsey Vestal and Ben Townsend, Graduate Shop Assistant Srikanth Sriramula, Office Professionals Braman and Skiljan. 

Tickets are available at the box office outside the Highlander Theater Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., by calling (660) 543-8811 or online at ucmboxoffice.universitytickets.com. 

For more information, call (660) 543-8811 or email boxoffice@ucmo.edu.     


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