“The Circus in Winter: a musical” should be applauded not just for what it was on stage, but for the real-life learning opportunities it provided. And I’m not saying that altruistically. Back in the day, composers, lyricists and book writers had a chance to develop shows without needing every one of them to be a gigantic, career make-or-break hit. In that process, lessons were learned and skills developed—which led eventually to some of the greatest work of musical theater.
The story follows Wallace Porter, a young and country-raised stable owner as he acquires a disheveled circus and menagerie. Set while the circus is winter-quartered in Lima, Indiana, Porter and company consider notions of risk, redemption and rebirth through relationships as graceful and perilous as an acrobat’s high-flying routine.