It’s not often that an actor making his Broadway debut takes home the Tony for Best Actor in a Play, and very few actors have ever managed to take home that honor. Several very impressive actors are up for the Tony Award, however this just may be Alex Sharp’s year. The 25-year-old actor is currently nominated for his role as Christopher in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” and he’s been impressing audiences and critics since the show opened in October of 2014 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
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Sharp didn’t have a very traditional upbringing, which is probably why he’s been so perfect to take on a role as difficult as Christopher in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The show is based on the 2003 mystery novel by Mark Haddon, which won several awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. It also hit number one on the New York Times Bestseller List.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is told from the point of view of a 15-year-old boy who is living with Asperger’s-like symptoms, or possible mild Autism, though it’s never specifically stated. When he learns of the death of his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to investigate the crime himself, bringing the audience in to his fascinating and complex mind. The play, which includes stunning lighting and projection work, was a massive hit on London’s West End, where it won seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Play in 2013.
London-born Sharp was raised as a traveler. He was home schooled, living with his parents in Rome, all across the United States and even once stayed on a Hopi Indian Reservation. He studied at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, where he recently starred in “Master Harold and the Boys” as well as an adaptation of “A Clockwork Orange” before receiving the news that he would originate the role of Christopher in the New York premiere of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Sharp explains why he’s drawn to the 15-year-old character: “He’s a very specific human being who sees the world in an incredibly beautiful way, in a way I often wish I could see it. He sees maths in everything – numbers, patterns. But he also is a human being of extremes.” It’s this type of complex mind that makes for such a fascinating role on stage. When Sharp transforms into Christopher, it’s stepping into an entirely different world, one that critics have been adoring.
Alex Sharp’s performance in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is the type of debut role that young actors all over the world dream about, when they practice their acceptance speeches in the bathroom mirror at home. It’s the kind that an actor can really sink his teeth into with a meaty, challenging and truly astounding script. Sharp is up against Steve Boyer, Bradley Cooper, Ben Miles, and Bill Nighy for the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play, so there is some very stiff competition. However, with a breakout performance like this, the young actor may just beat them all. The Tony Awards are presented Sunday, June 7 on CBS.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.