A big start to a new year

It was a good weekend.

The team traveled to East Haddam, CT and Goodspeed Musicals to give a preview of our show to the season ticket holders and other theatre goers of the area. Reason being, Goodspeed has accepted us to do a full production of Circus In Winter at the Norma Terris Theatre. Likewise, we have announced a collaboration with actor/writer/director/Braves fan/Tony Nom Hunter Foster. I couldnt feel more comfortable if I wanted to.

I don’t feel pressure from this announcement, just joy. Feels like dreaming. I played five songs in the afternoon, and Beth joined me to fill in plot lines and give the backstory of our own journey. It was well received.


The strangest things come back around. I performed “Never Alone”, seems to be my staple anymore, and a woman commented in the Q & A after my mini-set. In answering questions about where we’ve been, Beth and I spoke about the original concept of the Virginia Ball Center group from 2010. Originally, our first idea was to compose a connected song cycle about how 9/11 affected the midwest.

She rose her hand, house left, front row. She said she didn’t have a question, but more of an observation. This woman said we may not have written the 9/11 musical, but we touched her with “Never Alone”. She talked about the feeling of helplessness, imminent end, the water rising, but the beautiful sense of being and euphoria that comes with acknowledging how amazing life itself is, in any capacity. I can’t remember how she put it, but I was enlightened. I had never ever considered the piece in that context.

After the talkback was finished, it was time to enjoy the announcement. People were excited, it was a little bit like going back to summer camp. Seeing old friends from last years Johnny Mercer Colony, as it was currently chugging along for its second cycle. Meeting new people, meeting people who would work on, and later attend Circus when its presented. We talked casting. It was all very freaky and awesome.

A cabaret at night closed radical day, featured the inspiring Benjamin Scheuer and Sam Willmott performing their own work. Then a party. And drankin’.

We visited Norma Terris the next morning (no headache) and the neighboring town of Chester. It was pretty magical, small town, big artistry all around. It’s Goodspeed’s 30th Anniversary season, and I can’t believe we’re apart of it. But in some ways, I can. It only gets better from here. I hope :)

“Amazing” Original lyrics


This is the return of the little book! A friend gave me a small moleskin notebook when I started this project, it ended up being the reference to scribbles and ideas in the first semester Circus was in development. This page in particular is the first draft of the “Amazing”, the show opener. It took me three completely different tunes to find this one. The first two I wrote were terrible. When this happened, I knew we were good.

I found this in the back of my Dad’s pickup truck while home for Christmas. Lost for two years. I was looking for a scarf, didn’t find it, but I’ll take this. I scanned all I could, and will continue to share :)

One more for Indiana

For now.

After the Palladium performance went over so well, we linked up with Actor’s Theatre of Indiana to do a concert performance of the music from the show, with me leading the evening in song, commentary, background, etc. Very VH1 Storytellers.

Talks with theatres are in a good place, and we don’t really have a draft to commit to, as talks with a book writer are also in a good place. With the emphasis being getting people familiar with what we’re trying to do, we do have music, so we set up for a night of music.

We were in a 200 or so seat theatre with a few sets of stadium style bleachers, and a limited band. The ensemble and soloists for various roles were made up of past and present Circus members, kids I knew before I graduated BSU as a senior were now seniors themselves. As well as some faculty contributions, always cool. We rehearsed at Ball State a few days before, interviewed with local TV, and caravanned to Carmel on show day, arriving at about 3 pm on the 18th of December.


We had a long time between show and arrival. It was a pleasure to fly in good friend and recurring Circus guitarist Eli Zoller, his first taste of Indiana musical theatre. Eli had just finished a Broadway stint with First Date before joining us, he performed with me on “Runnin’ To Get What’s Mine” during the show. My main dude Nick Rapley came from New York as well. My college and current roommate, it was nice to relive a little in Muncie with him. Producer Ken Dingledine and social media wonder woman Claire Buffie were in from New York as well.

Everyone in the cast did what they needed to do all week, and the show felt over before it started. The more the finished product is realized, it seems like time flies when we’re in the flow of the piece. A lot like I do in this blog, I got to share what this show is from my perspective. And it was even better to say what I said to a lot of friends and family I love so much, as well as the whole Circus crew. I got a little choked up in parts, which is fine. My parents were there, teachers, sister, sue me.

As a social media strategy, we let people take pictures and video from the show. I’ll feature a few here, it made for a very involved experience. I have never talked to, met, heard praise from so many people I had never met after it was done. It was also great to strengthen a relationship with a prominent regional group like ATI. After that, it was home for Christmas with my family, a relaxation. And a time to look forward to the big year ahead in 2014 for The Circus in Winter. If ever you want to stay up to date with Circus happenings in real time, catch us on social media with the handle @CircusInWinter

eli ben killin

October and what just happened…


We got a new and old script together.

Took the best of both worlds. Primarily, me and Beth just followed our hearts, which led the show back to Indiana this fall. We planned a little road trip to do a reading of our new hybrid script, complete with new characters and a happy Irene, and to also stop in for a show with Sutton Foster at the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN. This was a good field trip, lemme tell you all about it.

We got to the Palladium and here’s what it looks like.



I couldn’t even get to the sides. Huge, beautiful, spacious. Barely even needed microphones. It was all nice and professional. Everybody on point. The plan was, Sutton was the featured event, obviously. She hooked us up hard. She did half her show, introduced us, and we did three songs from the show. Us, being, Nick, Sam Malone (current Ball State) Krystal Worrell (also, a senior at BSU) Alumni and original writer Jonathan Jensen (flew in from Kansas City!) and myself. Killer group.


Spending the day at the place was awesome. I had way too much free time. Sutton had sold out, we had a boatload of people we did and did not know showing up. Spent time during soundcheck with Michael Rafter, Sutton’s musical director as well as the music director of Thoroughly Modern Mille, and every notable run ofViolet. Sutton is always a pleasure to be around, and an inspiration. She has a calmness to her set these days that makes her so easy to watch. She needs nothing flashy, doesn’t really need anything but a piano and an audience. To barge in right in the middle of it all is a feeling I won’t forget.

We ate dinner, interviewed a bit with the camera crew from Ball State, and waited. I went to the stage and played when it was empty. I played “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. The house manager told me about when trumpeter Chris Botti played it the same way before his show. That was cool, to even be compared. I felt the gravity for a minute of what I was stepping into. Its exciting to be in a position to affect the outreach of our piece, and to be the one to introduce it to new ears.

There wasn’t a thing wrong after we were ushered on stage. I could hear everything, I felt comfortable. Adrenaline. The sound went up and up and up, it was cavernous. Jonathan sounded like a grown man, because he is, the guy sounded unreal. Everybody stepped it up. Young and old. It would be a continuing theme this trip.

It was done as soon as it started. Sutton smoothed it out and everybody went home happy. My whole family was there. Back up to Ball State we went.

I have an admitted anxiety when it comes to teaching new people this music. I had been told this was a “make shift” group of freshmen and non-majors. What it actually was, to my surprise, was a group of the most prepared and bold students I had ever seen at Ball State. Lead roles were played mostly by senior acting majors, education majors, faculty. The ensemble was mostly the freshmen class. I had a feeling Beth had prepped them to be independent, but the kids had assigned parts to the ensemble numbers on their own, and were learned when I arrived. It ended up being the most well organized performance at Ball State we’d ever done. I was supposed to cover about half the music on my own, just singing, so we didn’t load anyone up with more than they could handle. Again, kids stepped up. Karaline Feller, an acting major playing Jennie, told me she wanted to sing “Never Alone”. I said of course, and she really killed it. Amber Price was our understudy for Pearly during the production at Ball State, and played the role this time around. She elevated “Take You Home” to a new and personal place, the piece Pearly sings after Caesar’s death. I got the point where I gave anybody anything they wanted to do. I wanna keep that attitude. I like people who “do”, I need to be that kind of person to lead groups. I loved the effort, I was truly flattered and empowered.


We received a bunch of feedback after the reading from the multitude of talent at Ball State at the time. It was playwrights week, so there were people with opinions present. Which was good, but we know what’s up. The book is still not complete, we need somebody to own it. We’ve got our ideas. I’m back in love with the journey of this show. Always was, sometimes more than others. People will love it too I think, they did this past week.

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