"The Circus of Terror" opens August 15

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Local co-writers of the musical “The Circus of Terror” are Jonathan Horn, musical director, and Luke Davidson, director. Performances begin August 15 at the State Theatre in Zumbrota.

By Alicia Hunt-Welch

ZUMBROTA – Z-Theatre is proud to sponsor “The Circus of Terror,” a new murder-mystery musical comedy created by locals Luke Davidson and Jonathan Horn.  Set in 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. Despite the title, Davidson said the musical is suitable for all ages; saying it would be rated PG.

Performances will be held at the State Theatre in Zumbrota (96 East 4th Street) on Friday and Saturday, August 15-16, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, August 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available one hour prior to the show, and advance ticket sales are available at Crossings. Children under ten years of age are free. 

Bruce Bulgar, a greedy, conniving ringleader, begins “The Circus of Terror” 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, assistant manager of the circus, and other characters attempt to solve the mystery of Louie’s death. 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 wacky twists and turns that leave the audience wondering, “Whodunit?” 

The cast includes Jason Hanson, Justin Lewis, Cynthia Biorn, Luke Davidson, Jonathan Horn, Elyce Darcy, Heather Hauser, JC Koepsell, Katie Doehling, Anna Telecky, Carrie Doehling, Izzy Telecky, Dave Davidson, and Bella McMahan.

Local creators

Luke Davidson and Jonathan Horn are both from the Kenyon and Wanamingo areas. As high school students they began writing the musical for fun in early 2012, after Davidson transferred from Kenyon-Wanamingo to the Perpich Center for the Arts Education. With encouragement from the Perpich staff, in 2013 the production was performed on campus. Horn said, “Luke has been the major force in bringing our show both to Perpich and to Z-Theatre.” 

Davidson, director of the show, is studying musical theatre at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and is pursuing a career in acting/theatre. 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 said, “For me, acting and performing will always be my first love. I see writing as another creative outlet that fills my free time. There’s nothing I hate more than sitting around, doing nothing, and feeling bored. So whenever I find myself sitting around, I use that time to write.”  

Horn wrote the music for the show. He is currently double majoring in music composition and theatre at Northwestern College in St. Paul. And he has written several compositions for piano, as well as a few for other instruments. Horn said he would like to have a broad range of theatrical experiences. “It is hard for me to focus on one area,” he said, “but I’d rather wear a lot of hats. I have greatly enjoyed composing the music for this show, and I have an interest in composing music for other contexts as well. I’ve written a variety of standalone pieces.” Horn greatly enjoys performing and has acted in a variety of productions at Northwestern. “As an artist, I believe in using whatever venue necessary to tell the story that needs to be told,” he said. “I believe that all art is, at its core, storytelling. That is why I like to wear different hats.” 

Davidson and Horn wanted to have another live performance of “The Circus of Terror” before sending it off to a publisher. Davidson explained, “That way our musical stands a better chance of getting published.” He emailed Z-Theatre director Ronda Anderson-Sand and told her about the show. The men met with Anderson-Sand at Bridget’s café and shared photos from the Perpich production with her. She loved the idea and plans were made for Z-Theatre to host a production in August. Auditions were held in June. 

In addition to directing, writing, acting in, and composing music for the show, Davidson and Horn did the casting and helped with the advertising. Horn said, “Since we will not have a large creative crew, the two of us will also be involved in aspects such as acquiring costumes and props, designing the (minimal) set, and basic choreography”

Davidson said, “Jonathan and I have had a lot of fun creating this musical. But it’s still new for us. We are still learning the ways of the writing world. I’m also trying to familiarize myself with as many areas of theatre and show business as possible because I think that will help me, personally, with my future endeavors.” 

Horn said, “We are always churning new musical ideas around in our heads. There may be more projects to come!”



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