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Clowntown, A Musical - In Las Vegas This Weekend


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. 

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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."



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

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