The Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth


University Theatre of Ball State University


September 29-30, October 1, 5-8 at 7:30 p.m., and October 2 at 2:30 p.m. 


Adaptation by the students of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, Directed by Beth Turcotte, Musical direction by Ben Clark and Alex Kocoshis, Choreography by Erin Spahr 

How to Order Tickets:

The box office is open from 12 to 5 PM Monday through Friday (765)285-8749 or $16 Gen. Adm., $12 Senior, $11 Student. Group rates are available.

How did this happen? 

This explains it pretty well. Basically, the musical happened because 1.) Prof. Beth Turcotte at BSU proposed the project, jumped through the hoops, herded the cats, and drew the very best out of 2.) an incredibly talented group of young people with mad, mad skills, and 3.) it happened because of one devout fan of the book: Prof. Tony Edmonds. He’s been teaching The Circus in Winter in his courses at Ball State since it was first published, and thus, when Beth’s group got together to talk about a book to adapt, many had read it. It’s extraordinary that a room full of people anywhere (other than in my hometown or perhaps in my parents’ living room) would have my book in common. 

How faithful is the musical to the book?  

Quite faithful, but wisely (since my book is a collage and a good musical is a straight line), they only used the first five stories in the book. You’ll meet Wallace Porter, Irene Porter, Jennie Dixianna, and Elephant Jack, Caesar the Elephant (yes! there’s an elephant!) among others, as well as a few new characters not in the book.

What’s the musical about?

Basically, it’s an origin story; why does Wallace Porter buy a circus? “The Circus in Winter is the story of passion beneath the big top. Join Wallace Porter, a stable owner from Indiana, as he falls in love and searches for his life’s work, a journey that culminates in the purchase of his own circus. Filled with fantastic characters, heart-wrenching moments of love and loss, and extraordinary new music. The Circus in Winter is a feast for the eyes, ears and heart.”

Where do I go?

The University Theatre and Box Office is located on the Ball State campus behind Emens Auditorium, across the plaza south of Bracken Library.

Will you be there, Cathy?

Maybe. I can’t attend every performance, but I will definitely be there opening night, Sept. 29, Sunday, Oct. 2, and on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Will there be a post-performance Talk Back so the audience can learn more about the adaptation and production?

Yes, it’s on Thursday, Oct. 6 after the show. I’ll be there, although my involvement in the production was quite minimal. The students and faculty who did the adaptation will be there (although some have graduated), along with members of the current cast and crew.  

How does this feel?  

I started writing The Circus in Winter exactly twenty years ago when I was a college student in Indiana, and it makes me happy that this adaptation was also done by college students in Indiana. Mostly, I’m just really grateful. These characters have been in my head for twenty years, and I can’t wait to meet them. I’m pretty sure I’ll cry a lot. It’s a very overwhelming experience to have your inner truths sung back to you.

How can I learn more?

If you can’t come to the show, follow the musical on Twitter @circusinwinter. They live tweet rehearsals. 

May all your days be circus days!

General Writing


  1. Deb Holdzkom says:

    Steve and I are so proud of you! It’s a wonderful book about our common love of circus and Peru. Can’t wait to see it! It’s a lovely thing to have an author in our family.

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