Meredith McDonough is a New Jersey native whose passion and devotion to theater has taken her all over the country — from San Francisco to New York City. Her latest gig brought her to Louisville in 2012, landing at Actors Theatre of Louisville as the associate artistic director.
During her time here, McDonough has directed numerous shows for Actors and its annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, including “Angels in America,” “The Santaland Diaries,” “Marginal Loss,” “Airness” and many others.
Her latest directorial project will help kick off Actors’ 2018-19 season (which began with “Dracula”), when she brings Simon Stephens’ “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” to the Actors Theatre stage starting Tuesday, Sept. 18.
The story, which is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Haddon, follows young protagonist Christopher Boone as he investigates the mysterious death of a neighbor’s dog. The autistic Boone must question everyone, from family to school mentors, and the clues he finds take him — and the audience — on a fun, insightful adventure.
The multiaward-winning play debuted on Broadway in 2014 and took home the Tony Award for Best Play in 2015.
McDonough tells Insider she wanted to bring the play to Louisville audiences because it intertwines both a whodunit storyline along with one of empowerment.
“I was so moved by Christopher’s story and his bravery when I first encountered the show, and knew I wanted to bring it to Actors,” she says. “The play so beautifully reflects his experience of world with great theatricality.”
Alex Stuart, an autistic actor, will play Christopher in this production, making it only the second time an autistic person has played the role.
This show has strengthened Actors’ relationship with the Kentucky Autism Training Center at UofL, said McDonough, and helped develop partnerships with members of the Kentuckiana Autistic Spectrum Alliance and the Kentucky chapter of the Autism Self-Advocacy Network.
“This production presents a unique opportunity to collaborate with members of the autism community,” she says. “Autistic advisers and autism specialists provided support and feedback to Actors Theatre staff and artists working on the production, led by Actors Theatre access and inclusion consultant Talleri McRae.”
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” runs Sept. 18-Oct. 10. Tickets start at $25. Actors Theatre is located at 316 W. Main St.
McDonough says that although directing has its challenges, the rewards for her far outweigh the struggles.
“I love putting together dynamic teams of artists to make work together. It is so joyful to build on previous relationships while adding new actors and designers into the mix,” she explains. “It keeps the work fresh and keeps me on my toes.”
We caught up with McDonough on a break during a dress rehearsal to ask her some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
Being a professional party host!
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
Johnny Depp in “21 Jump Street.”
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
My production stage manager, Pablo Holmes.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
Ooh, goat cheese and some delicious homemade sausage.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
The band members of OK Go.