I imagine it’s a lot of actors’ dream to be in a Broadway play. It’s a chance to shine, to say to your friends back home that you’d made it. For the actors in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” their Broadway performances may be upstaged by a non-human actor: a rat named Toby.
Toby, a 9-month-old female rescue, plays the male pet and best friend of Christopher, an autistic teenager played by actor Alex Sharp. At first the cast was not entirely pleased with the news they’d be sharing the Ethel Barrymore Theater stage with a rat. “The idea of a rat was not exactly familiar to me,” Sharp told the New York Times. “It was just a thing you see in the subway that has disease.”
However, Toby has won over the cast and audiences alike. She’s been so well-received, in fact, that her role has gotten larger. While previously kept inside her cage during her stage time, Toby is now a partially free-roaming actress, nuzzling Sharp and running up and down his arms.
The audience has fallen in love with Toby as well, showing their affection with laughter when she’s onstage and taking photographs whenever her trainer, Lydia DesRoche, appears at the stage door with Toby on her shoulder.
Toby has proven to be such a successful Broadway star that she has a dressing room, which she shares with Dr. Watson, a Golden Retriever who is also in the play. Toby’s dressing room is complete with mirrors surrounded by light bulbs, fresh roses, a tube to play with and run through and a glass of water.
The consummate professional, whenever showtime is nearing, as soon as Toby hears her trainer call out “five minutes,” she runs inside her cage where she awaits curtain call.