BWW Previews: CLOWNTOWN at Judy Bayley Theatre At The University Of Nevada, Las Vegas
In a world where clowns are born, "Clowntown" is an original musical combining murder, romance, laughs and big shoes. The musical created by Le Reve Musical Director Michael Brennan and Composer's Showcase Co-founder John Massé will debut at the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas May 27-28.
Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns but in this world, all of humanity is afraid. Since clowns are born, the entire clown population has been relocated in a walled amusement park known as Clowntown. The town and its people are forgotten until a high profile murder forces the world's greatest clown to return to the outside world. He has to come to grips with his past while the world is teetering on either the brink of destruction or profound revolution.
Based on an original screenplay written by Nathan Olney, Brennan and Massé imagined funny scenarios if clowns were hired to do a job, such as a chauffeur, except the entire limo would be filled with clowns since that is what they do.
"They are more humane-like with extra powers and great strength which makes humans very afraid," Brennan told BroadwayWorld.com. "Through the director's eyes, we explore what went wrong that humans built a walled city and made the clowns live within those walls." "Clowntown" is meant to promote tolerance and that people find a way to live together regardless of differences.
"But we don't want to figuratively hit anyone over the head with our message," he explained. "It is a great musical with underlying elements that are really important during this time in our country and world."
Allegra Libonati, resident director of The American Repertory Theatre, is the director. The cast of 20 is led by Justin Sargent ("BAZ" and "Spider-Man,") Nicole Kaplan and Randal Keith ("Showstoppers") and other cast members from shows such as "Jersey Boys" and "Rock of Ages." In addition, six students from the Nevada Conservatory Theatre will perform, working with professional actors and producers to further their education. A full band will accompany the show, along with some of modern theater's most famous clowns.
The concept as a live stage production began when Brennan visited Massé, creative director of Sketchers, in California. "We were playing the piano, hanging out and I spotted a big picture book with the title 'Clowntown.' I asked him about it and he told me that it was a film in development and he was working on the project," he explained. "The pictures were incredible and I told him this is the making of a Broadway musical."
They flew the screenwriter to Los Angeles, and while Olney was skeptical at first, he soon agreed to allow theatrical rights to Brennan and Massé.
"It was written as a Quentin Tarantino-style film with action, gun fights and car chases in a film noir style with clowns. With our adaptation, we focus on social-economic elements of these groups trying to live together as well as a love story."
"Clowntown" will be performed as a concert staging at the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas May 27-28. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and tickets are are $30 per person plus fees and can be purchased at unlv.edu/pac/tickets with all proceeds benefiting the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, the professional theater training program of UNLV. The show has some mature themes and is recommended for ages 12 and up.