Topics: College of Fine Arts, Immersive Learning

December 15, 2011

Get ready for another dramatic glimpse behind the scenes of the circus as "The Circus in Winter" takes the stage as a featured performance in the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Champaign, Ill.

The musical is one of eight productions selected for the 2012 regional festival from a field of 40 to 50 entrants from colleges and universities in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. It will close out the weeklong festival on Jan. 7 with 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances in the Festival Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a regional finalist, "The Circus in Winter" has the potential to be recognized as one of the best student productions in the country at the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCATF) in April.

The musical is an adaptation of Ball State English professor Cathy Day's novel by the same name and follows the lives of Indiana stable owner Wallace Porter and the crew of talent he hires when purchasing his own circus. Its creative team includes theater professor and director Beth Turcotte; students of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry; Ben Clark and Alex Kocoshis, musical directors; Christopher and Justin Swader, set designers; 1995 alumnus Andy Catron as guest lighting designer; Maggie Cissell, costume designer; Tyler Smart, sound designer; and Erin Spahr, choreography.

"This is an opportunity for those of us involved with 'Circus' to say thank you for all the support, guidance and faith we've been given—from the university and President Jo Ann Gora to the Virginia Ball Center, our donors, our department, and, of course, Cathy Day," Turcotte said.

To raise funds for the festival, Ball State's Department of Theatre and Dance will sponsor a benefit performance of "The Circus in Winter" at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 in University Theatre. Tickets are $10 each and on sale at the University Theatre box office. All proceeds benefit students traveling to the upcoming festival.

Bill Jenkins, department chair, describes "The Circus in Winter" as one of the most successful productions ever staged at Ball State. "Its entire run of shows was sold out," he said. "Everybody I spoke to who saw it described it as terrific and I'd say, all-around, it's one of the best things we've ever done."

Clark said the remaining creative team hopes festival distinction will help market the production when they enter it into new musical festivals this spring. "We've made it a point to see through the full potential of the show, and I think it has a good shot to be professionally produced," he said.

Overall, Ball State will send 95 students to the regional festival, where they will spend Jan. 4-8 participating in workshops and contest, attending lectures and watching productions. At the 2011 KCATF, Ball State students Christopher and Justin Swader were named national winners in scenic design. 

Box office hours for University Theatre are Dec. 12-16, 1 to 5 p.m.; Dec. 19-22, 1 to 5 p.m.; Dec. 23, 9 a.m. to noon; Dec. 28-29, 1 to 5 p.m.; Dec. 30, 9 a.m. to noon; Jan. 2, 5 to 7 p.m.