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Ball State-birthed big-top musical graduates to big time

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“The Circus in Winter” began its theatrical life as a Ball State student project in 2010. Now the musical is set for a full production at the Goodspeed Opera House’s Norma Terris Theatre, one of the leading regional companies in the country.

“The Circus in Winter” will open Oct. 23 at East Haddam, Conn.-based Goodspeed, which also launched such hits as "Annie" and "Man of La Mancha," according to the show's producers. If critics and audiences like what they see this fall in that production, Broadway could be the show's next destination the following season.

The musical was inspired by the novel of the same name by Cathy Day. It features music and lyrics by Ben Clark, with a book by Ball State professor Beth Turcotte. Fourteen students under the guidance of Turcotte spent a semester helping develop the show, which premiered in a 2010 concert reading.

"Thinking back to the first draft and comparing it to now is surreal, but the mission is very much the same," Clark told IBJ on Monday. "The quality of the piece continues to grow, and I think it's because all we've really wanted is to make our dream come to life."

In the fall of 2011, it was fully produced at BSU. The show was one of eight new musicals invited to participate in the National Alliance for Musical Theater’s 2012 festival, where its cast included Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster (“Anything Goes,” TV’s “Bunheads”) and Steel Burkhardt (“Hair”). That same year, it won Outstanding Production of a New Work at the American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

New theater productions, of course, require money. Center Ring Theatricals, LLC, the Brooklyn-based company created to get the show up and running, is seeking donations for the Goodspeed production and investors for its subsequent life on stage.

Producer partners Sean Cercone (Broadway’s recent “Hands on a Hardbody”) and Ken Dingledine (vice president and director of operations for publisher Samuel French Inc.) are making the rounds drumming up necessary funds—including a recent visit to the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, where a truncated concert version of the show was presented Dec. 18.
 
Claire Buffie, marketing director for Center Ring, estimated that producers are seeking a few hundred thousand dollars to aid in the Goodspeed production. More serious bankrollers interested in investing in the future of the show are being asked for a minimum of $12,500, which would go toward an estimated $8 million to $10 million tab for Broadway, Buffie said.

Buffie noted that a group of Ball State alumni is pooling money through a representative.

The show's creative team will be enhanced for the Goodspeed production, with an announcement of a director and additional scriptwriter expected in early 2014.
 

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  • Good story Lou
    May they see their production on Broadway someday! Really good article Lou, and Happy Holidays to you!

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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