My critic pal Lou Harry in Indianapolis handed me a Connecticut theater scoop. Lou wrote here that The Circus in Winter, which began as a student project at Indiana’s Ball State University three years ago, will be produced by Goodspeed Musicals next fall.
The mainstage 2014 season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam has already been announced, so The Circus in Winter is doubtless one of the new shows that gets developed at the Goodspeed’s other venue, the Norma Terris Theater in Chester.
Numerous shows that had workshops at the Norma Terris have gone on to New York, including the very first show ever produced at the space in 1982, Harrigan ‘n’ Hart, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Alan Ayckbourn/P.G. Wodehouse panic By Jeeves and the Elvis jukebox musical All Shook Up.
The Circus in Winter is based on a novel by Cathy Day , which in turn was based on a true story of touring circus folk who would settle for the off-season in the town of Lima, Indiana during the late 19th and early 20th century. A series of linked short stories, the book has been likened to Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. It’s been musicalized by composer/lyricist Ben Clark and librettist Beth Turcotte.
The show had a concert reading at Ball State three years ago after it was developed during a year-long classroom project. Ball State gave The Circus in Winter a full production in 2011, and it went on to compete in the 2012 National Alliance for Musical Theater festival. It also won an award at the American College Theatre Festival in 2012.
Goodspeed has had success with circus or carnival-themed shows in the past, everything from Houdini to Mirette to, uh, Carnival. Here’s hoping The Circus in Winter makes a splash next fall.