Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

KNPR

Clowntown, A Musical - In Las Vegas This Weekend

clowntownstage01flt-1.jpg

Illustration by John Masse

The set of “Clowntown – A Musical”

Many of us have a love-hate relationship when it comes to clowns. For every thought of Bozo, Ronald McDonald, or Emmett Kelly, there’s “Poltergeist,” “American Horror Story: Freakshow,” or John Wayne Gacy. 

In the play, "Clowntown - A Musical," clowns are born, naturally. They are not people made up in face-paint. And, most likely, you'll have fun watching them on stage.

"Clowntown" is an idea that has morphed from a screenplay by Nathan Olney into a musical created by Michael Brennan and John Masse.  It premieres this weekend at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Nevada Conservatory Theatre.

“I think on its surface it's very much like a science fictiony, romance, sort of who-dun-it a la 'Maltese Falcon' or 'Chinatown,' but really it’s about tolerance because they’re so different and so strange and they’ve been relegated to a city sort of like a walled off Disneyland,” John Masse explained. 

Support comes from

But, "They're very funny, It's a funny show," Michael Brennan said. 

Brennan and Masse started creating the show two years ago, but while they were writing it the talk of walls dominated the 2016 Presidential Election. Both were amazed to see their fiction echoed in the events of the day.

Brett Alters is a performer in "Clowntown." He said the people involved are well known in the clowning community. 

“It’s a good little team of people all coming together to create some serious clowning,” he said.

And as a student of clowning as an art form, Alters said he was hooked during his initial reading of the script.

“When I first read this script I was very impressed by the breadth of clown paraphernalia and history that’s in this piece,” he said.

The show is not fully finished and this weekend's performance will be more of a concert rather than a fully staged musical. One co-writer described the production as being a cross between Garrison Keller's Lake Woebegone and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

 

Guests

Michael Brennan, Co-writer, "Clowntown - A Musical"; John Masse, Co-writer, "Clowntown - A Musical"; Brett Alters, Performer, "Clowntown - A Musical"

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories

Pricilla Mooseburger, one of the characters created by Tricia Manuel, a veteran clown who's seen her industry hurt by menacing depictions in popular culture.
NPR
Planet Money
Sep 17, 2018

Down Clown

KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada