Auditions will be held for "The Circus of Terror" in June

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By Alicia Hunt-Welch

ZUMBROTA – “The Circus of Terror,” a new murder mystery musical comedy written by locals Luke Davidson and Jonathan Horn, will be performed at the historic State Theatre in Zumbrota this August. Auditions are scheduled for June 7 at 2 p.m. and June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the theatre. Set during late 1929 on the site of a run-down circus in desperate need of financial assistance, the circus performers endure numerous obstacles that prevent them from putting on a show – including a mysterious killer who is murdering the main circus acts.  

Horn is currently majoring in music composition and theatre at Northwestern College in St. Paul. He has written several compositions for piano, as well as a few other instruments. Horn wrote the music for the show. 

Davidson is studying musical theatre at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. He has written screenplays for a few short films, such as “Crazy About Macy,” directed by Adam Jacobs, which won Best Narrative and Best of the Festival at the EDU Film Festival in Minneapolis.  

Davidson and Horn began writing the musical for fun in early 2012 while still high school students. Davidson said, “I don’t think either of us were expecting it to be performed the following year when we first started writing together.” But while a student at Perpich Center for the Arts High School, Davidson mentioned the musical endeavor to his teachers. Their response was surprising. “My theatre teachers were so interested,” Davidson said, “and they told me that we should perform it at Perpich. I thought they were joking at first, but as it turned out, they were quite serious.” 

Over the next year the stories, dialogue, and lyrics were tweaked and cleaned up. Davidson said, “It was kind of a crazy process. But the performance at Perpich was very much a workshop project. Jonathan and I are incredibly grateful to the people at Perpich who made our show possible because they really helped us to make it the show that it is today. ”

The production hit the Perpich Center stage in 2013. Many people from our area wanting to witness Davidson and Horn’s musical were unable to and requested it be performed locally.  

Davidson had performed in “Forever Plaid” at the State Theatre in Zumbrota and enjoyed that experience, so the men set their sights on bringing “The Circus of Terror” to the theatre. Davidson said, “The people that are involved with the Z-theatre are all friendly, dedicated, local people that are enjoyable and easy to work with.” He also said the State Theatre has the perfectly sized stage for this production. Horn agreed and said, “The people at Z-Theatre have been incredibly generous in collab-orating with us on this project and allowing us to use their space and resources; we greatly appreciate their commitments to local artists!”


Bruce Bulgar, the greedy, conniving ringleader, begins the show by singing a verse.  The carnies and other characters join him in a grand performance.  But during the performance, Louie Laughingstock, the circus’ best clown, suddenly dies. Afterwards Eddy Biggar, the circus assistant manager, along with other characters, attempts to find the reason behind Louie’s sudden death, but are unable to. Officer Howard, a bumbling, accident-prone police officer, enters and announces that there is a dangerous murderer loose in the area, and he believes the murderer is connected to the death of Louie Laughingstock. The carnies are thrown into frenzy, and Eddy and Bruce are faced with the challenge of putting a show together in three days in order to make some money. Otherwise the tax collector, Ms. Zimmerman, will shut down the circus.

The story involves many other whacky twists and turns that leave the audience wondering, “Whodunnit?” Many personal secrets and feelings are revealed by different characters as the story progresses – all because of the murder of one clown.  

Actors of all ages are needed. Certain actors may be double-cast, if necessary. Unsure of your vocal chops? Davidson recommends you audition anyway! He said, “These characters are larger-than-life, satirized showbiz archetypes. Have fun!”


Bruce Bulgar – the greedy and conniving circus leader. Voice type:  baritone (male) or alto (female). 

Eddy Biggar – the hard-working, ambitious young male circus manager’s assistant. Voice type:  lyric tenor, baritone.

Dolores Von Tuff – emotional leading female circus diva. Voice type: soprano, mezzo-soprano.

Eleanor Dotson –  a talented and independent young female singer. Voice type: mezzo-soprano.

Gary Giggles – an easily angered clown. Voice type: baritone (male) or alto (female).

Officer Howard – a goofy, accident-prone, police-officer-in-training.  This is a very physical, non-singing role.

Willie – a naïve female animal trainer with a tendency to be abusive towards the animals. Voice type: alto.

Wallace –  the circus  veterinarian who appears to be a dimwitted buffoon but he has a secret that no one knows. Voice type: baritone.

Mr./Mrs. Zimmerman – the tax collector. This is a non-singing role.

Louie Laughingstock – a lovable clown who mysteriously dies during a performance. This is a non-singing role.

Chorus of carnies – a variety of circus acts. You could be a clown, a strongman, an acrobat, or a bearded lady! Males and females with all voice types needed. 

Audition preparation

For auditions, prepare a song on your own. The song can be anything, but they highly suggest singing an upbeat, lyrical show tune. Keep it short, one verse and a chorus. An accompanist will be provided. Have sheet music prepared for the accompanist in the key that you would like to sing. In addition to singing a song, actors will be given a few lines to read in groups of two or three.  

If not interested in auditioning for a leading role, the writers encourage you to still audition for a part in the chorus. These vocalists may sing without reading during auditions. 

Performances will be August 15-17.

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