Returning to stage, Gonzalez lands lead in Fall Play

Kayla Baltazar, Reporter

   Enthusiasm is building within the Mundelein Theatre Department  as this year’s annual fall play comes together for the weekend of Oct. 28-30, and that enthusiasm is especially strong for Junior Will Gonzalez, who landed the lead role of Christopher in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which is an adaptation by Simon Stephens of a book by the same name written by Mark Haddon. 

   “[Getting this part] was a mix of excitement and also fear– a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “This is my first mainstage lead at Mundelein, and it’s also a very difficult role.”

   The main character of the play, Christopher, sets out to solve the murder mystery behind the death of his neighbor’s dog. 

   In the play’s program, it states, “Christopher’s condition is not stated in the book, though, many describe it as Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning autism or savant syndrome. Haddon wrote that ‘“Curious Incident” is a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. The book is not about any specific disorder.’”

   In order to prepare for the role of Christopher, Gonzalez said he watched many different renditions of his character to draw inspiration from them, and other cast members took note of his work ethic. 

   “Will is very dedicated to everything he does, and this is a really hard role,” said Senior Addison Salski, who has worked closely with Gonzalez before, with the two of them playing major leads in an out-of-school production of “The Wedding Singer.” “I think that Will does a very good job of researching all of his characters and all of his actions in the play.”

   Salski, who plays Christopher’s mom, added she believes that the two of them having experienced acting together as well as being really close friends will help make their acting more believable. 

   Gonzalez noted that the ten-person show is going to be something more “different than Mundelein’s ever done.” 

   Jonathan Meier, director of theatre, chose to do this production after seeing the show on Broadway several years ago.

   “This show is just dynamite,” Meier said. “Ever since I saw it, [I was] like, ‘I am going to direct this play.’” 

   Meier said that the coolest part of his job is watching the growth of his students– Gonzalez being no exception. When Gonzalez first came to MHS, Meier said he knew Gonzalez was talented coming in.   

   “He’s what we call a ‘triple threat’,” Meier said. “He can sing, he can act and he can dance. He’s got talent in all three of those areas.”

   Gonzalez’s role in this performance comes after last year’s unexpected theater situation given the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite social-distancing regulations, the theatre students still managed to have a somewhat-normal year last year, performing six shows when they normally perform seven.
  “We did everything we could to keep theatre alive,” Gonzalez said, “And I think that was really good for everyone.”

   Now, the department is ready to tackle their newest production, and Gonzalez said, with such a talented cast, they’ll be able to tell an important story that will provide an interesting experience for the audience. 

  About acting, Gonzalez said, “You work hard, and people get to see it, and it pays off. The feeling of hearing an audience react to what you’re doing is just the best. I think it’s one of the best feelings in the world. The feeling of performing is unlike anything else.”