In the Media

The Circus in Winter: The Musical

The story of the musical

The Circus in Winter was optioned for musical theater by Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, an interdisciplinary program at Ball State University. A concert version of the show was performed in Muncie at Sursa Hall, in Chicago at Drury Lane Theater, in Peru, Indiana at the Ole Olsen Memorial Theater and the International Circus Hall of Fame, and at the Muncie Civic Theatre. A fully realized production was mounted at Ball State in Fall 2011 as part of University Theatre’s 2011-2012 season.  It was selected and was performed at the KC-ACTF’s Region III Festival at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in January 2012.  A national committee then selected Circus as one of the top five shows in the nation, and it earned a total of seven awards at the national awards ceremony in April 2012.

Following the astounding success of the show at the KC-ACTF, the National Alliance for Music Theatre (NAMT) selected the musical as a finalist in their yearly new work competition.  NAMT’s 24th Annual Festival of New Musicals is a premiere industry event that gathers theatre industry leaders to discover the eight musicals selected.  Hundreds of scripts are considered but only eight are given abbreviated performances in what has become a major stepping-stone towards a Broadway production.  According to American Theatre Magazine, NAMT is “an industry-only event, and it happens for only two days, but it makes a major impact in the world of musical theatre.” The Circus in Winter will both open and close this year’s festival, the first new work to do so in the history of NAMT.

You can follow the developments at show’s website, here.


  • For Love and the Colts,” an essay published on the day after Super Bowl XLI that became the germ of Comeback Season.
  • Excerpt from Comeback Season in Creative Nonfiction‘s online series “Pittsburgh in Words”
  • Excerpt from Comeback Season in Indianapolis Monthly.


  • 2013 podcast reading about how to handle advice-seekers, on The Drunken Odyssey ~ A Podcast About the Writing Life.
  • Brief 2013 statement to Brian Furuness for Brevity magazine, on fighting despair over writing.
  • 2012 interview with Wendy Skinner for Sleet magazine about Midwest Gothic, strong female characters, and literary citizenship.
  • 2012 interview for Historic Muncie project on “Creatives Living in the Emily Kimbrough District of Muncie” with my neighbor and BSU colleague Maura Jasper.
  • 2012 interview with Lindsey Riley for Ball Bearings, Ball State’s magazine. A multi-media feature on the Peru Amateur Circus!
  •  2011 interview by Linda Earle for GLCA New York Arts Program Alumni Newsletter–an interview about when I worked at Interview magazine!
  • 2011 interview by Sara Phinney for a story on The Circus in Winter: a Musical for Indiana Public Radio 92.1 WBST.
  • 2010 interview on the Ball State University English Department blog.
  • 2010 interview with David Inge on WILL Urbana’s Focus.
  • 2009 and 2006 podcast interviews with Ellen Wadey on WYEP Pittsburgh’s Prosody.
  • 2008 Interview with Regis Behe in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • 2008 interview with Bryan Furuness for Hobart literary journal online.
  • 2005 interview with Kurt Andersen on PRI’s Studio 360.


  • Review of The Circus in Winter by John Warner in The Staff Recommends.
  • Review of The Circus in Winter by Gary Krist in The New York Times.
  • Review of The Circus in Winter by Michael Pakenham in The Baltimore Sun.
  • Review of The Circus in Winter in Kirkus Reviews.
  • Review of Comeback Season in Cynthia Closkey’s blog My Brilliant Mistakes.
  • Review of Comeback Season by Rita Kohn in NUVO, Indianapolis.
  • Review of Comeback Season by Samantha Bennett in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Readings and Talks