The big top hits the stage as 'The Circus in Winter' comes to University Theatre

Topics: College of Fine Arts, Immersive Learning, College of Sciences and Humanities

September 15, 2011

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Actors Lakecia Harris (left) as Pearly and Andy Pickerill (right) as Wallace Porter in "The Circus in Winter." Elephant puppeteers are Zachary Allen and Edric Mitchell. The musical adaptation of Cathy Day~~~s novel opens Sept. 29 at University Theatre.

 There won't be lions and there won't be tigers, but a giant hand-crafted elephant will join a fantastic cast of characters onstage when the much-anticipated "The Circus in Winter" comes to Ball State University Theatre. The musical, an adaptation of Cathy Day's novel by the same name, opens Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. with additional performances scheduled for the same time Sept. 30, Oct. 1, and Oct. 5–8. Audiences can also catch a matinee Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m.

A story of passion under the big top, the musical follows the lives of Indiana stable owner Wallace Porter and the crew of talent he hires when purchasing his own circus. The project has been a labor of love for director Beth Turcotte, who, along with a team of students, first began work on "The Circus in Winter" as part of a Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry immersive learning project in spring 2010. Day, whose novel chronicles the everyday lives of circus people, was hired as a professor in Ball State's Department of English later that year.

"It's a rare, rare thing for writers to see their work dramatized," Day said, noting she is looking forward to seeing how Ball State student stage designers Justin and Chris Swader bring her novel's elephant to life. "That elephant has been in my thoughts for so many years. All of the characters have, really."

'A dream come true'

Turcotte, associate professor of theater, said working on "Circus" is unlike any other production she's been a part of in her career at Ball State. "Given the length of the project and the number of remarkable people involved and how Cathy has joined our faculty, it's been a magical turn of events," she said.

Musical direction of "The Circus in Winter" is being led by Ball State alumnus Ben Clark and music instructor Alex Kocoshis. Clark, who was an undergraduate student when he began writing the music and lyrics for the project, said this experience has been life-changing.

"I was already composing, singing and acting, but producing 'The Circus in Winter' challenged me to use all of those skills and lead the team at the same time," he said. "It's been a dream come true."

Christopher and Justin Swader said their involvement with "Circus" over the past two years has fueled their desire to continue creating original works in the future. "I am thrilled to see the work of so many talented and brilliant artists onstage later this month," Christopher Swader said, "and cannot wait to see where the rest of this journey takes all of us."

Tickets for the performance cost $16 for the general public, $14 for faculty and staff, $12 for senior citizens, and $11 for students. They are available from the University Theatre Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the box office at 765-285-8749 or visit www.bsu.edu/theatre for more information.

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