An Original Musical by Joshua Goldberg
60 minutes | 2f, 2m, 4 boys, ensemble
In the summer of 1921, the L. C. Casey Circus arrives in Philbrick, Pennsylvania on its yearly route. Thomas, a young man on the verge of adulthood, heads to the circus grounds where he meets the star acrobat, Jenny. Leaving his widowed mother behind, Thomas joins the troupe as the lions’ caretaker as he and Jenny begin to build a life together on the road. But when tragedy strikes, Jenny is left to rise alone from the ashes and fly with only the moon to guide her.
"Charming and terrifying in equal turn..."
- Sherry Kramer
Age 18 through 30. An acrobat and aerialist at the L. C. Casey Circus. She’s seen the world a few times over.
Age 19 through 22. Moon eyed and naive, he skips town to join the Circus.
Late thirties through early fifties. Thomas’ mother. In perpetual mourning for her late husband.
L. C. CASEY
Late thirties through early fifties. Lawrence Chester Casey, proprietor and ringmaster of the L. C. Casey Circus.
Age 9. Thomas and Jenny’s son, named after Thomas’ father.
JACK, RALPH & HENRY
Age 9-10. Frank’s friends.
Members of the L. C. Casey Circus troupe.
Acrobats, equestrians, jugglers, tightrope walkers, human cannonballs, and other personalities of the Circus.
The denizens of Philbrick, Pennsylvania
1. The Moon - Catherine
2. The L. C. Casey Circus - Casey, Thomas, Catherine, Troupe, Locals
3. My Home is the Circus - Jenny
4. Saying Goodbye - Jenny, Thomas
5. The Day After That - Jenny, Thomas
6. Pretty Little Jenny - Casey, Jenny
7. Dear Ma (1) - Thomas
8. Dear Ma (2) - Thomas, Casey, Troupe, Locals
9. A Promise - Jenny, Thomas, Troupe
10. Dear Ma (3) - Thomas
11. Some Miracles - Jenny, Thomas
12. Dear Ma (4) - Thomas
13. The Argument - Jenny, Thomas
14. The Day After That (Reprise) - Jenny
15. Somewhere - Jenny, Catherine
16. Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet - Casey, Troupe, Locals
17. Sun Bird - Casey
18. Blood Moon - Jenny, Casey
19. At the Circus - Frank, Catherine
20. The Day After That (Reprise 2) - Frank
21. I Am the Circus - Casey
22. The Moon (Reprise) - Catherine, Jenny
1921. Catherine (late 30s) stands by the window, thinking of her late husband and finding solace in the moon (The Moon). She puts away their wedding rings, a matching set with moonstones that glow blue in the moonlight.
The L.C. Casey Circus returns to Philbrick, Pennsylvania on its yearly route, and the Locals are full of anticipation. Thomas (19) tries to convince Catherine, his mother, to join him at the circus. He reminisces about the trips they used to take when his father, Frank, was alive. Catherine refuses to go, and Thomas heads to the street as the Troupe leads the Locals to the circus grounds (The L.C. Casey Circus). L.C. Casey (late 30s) introduces Jenny (18), the “Queen of the Sky.” She performs an aerial acrobatic routine, costumed in golden feathered wings. Thomas is entranced. The moon and sun fly overhead marking six days, and Thomas sits and watches Jenny as the Locals shift around him.
Jenny finds Thomas after the performance, asking why he’s been there every night. Casey calls for her, and she leaves Thomas with a kiss on the cheek.
The next night after the show, Thomas waits for Jenny. Casey tells him to leave, but is welcoming when Jenny introduces him as her friend. Thomas asks Jenny about her life at the circus, and if she ever thinks about leaving. She tells him about how she got to the Circus, and why it’s her home (My Home Is The Circus). She reveals to Thomas that she remembers seeing him at the circus with his parents when he was little. They say goodbye, as Jenny prepares to leave with the circus for their next stop (Saying Goodbye). Thomas confesses he is starting to have feelings for Jenny, and proposes the idea that he comes along with her. Jenny is ecstatic to have him come along (The Day After That). Thomas leaves to say goodbye to Catherine and get his things.
Jenny goes to ask L.C. Casey if Thomas can come along. Before she can say anything, Casey accuses her of wanting to leave the circus and tries to cajole her into staying (Pretty Little Jenny). Jenny finally asks, and Casey agrees that Thomas can come along and look after the lions.
At home, Thomas writes a letter saying goodbye to Catherine (Dear Ma (1)). He also takes his parents’ moonstone wedding rings. After he’s gone, Catherine enters and finds the note.
The beginning of an extended montage: Time passes for Thomas on the road with multiple circus stops, as he writes letters home. A year later they are back in Philbrick, and Thomas invites Catherine to the show. Jenny performs, with the moon and sun marking a week. Thomas waits for his mother but she never arrives (Dear Ma (2)). We see Catherine with Thomas’ newest letter; she adds it to a stack of unopened letters.
Thomas and Jenny are married, using the moonstone rings (A Promise). The following summer, Thomas invites Catherine to meet his new wife while the circus is in town. She never arrives (Dear Ma (3)).
Jenny, thankful for all the things in her life, celebrates the birth of their son (Some Miracles). The following summer, Thomas writes a letter inviting Catherine to meet their son, named Frank Jr. after Thomas’ dad (Dear Ma (4)). Montage over.
1924. As they prepare for their first night in Philbrick, Casey warns Thomas that the lions are wild (perhaps due to the full moon), and reminds him to feed them. Jenny asks Thomas about the letter to Catherine, and he says he will send it the next day. They reminisce about when they met, and Thomas asks Jenny to think about leaving the circus and settling down somewhere. He is worried they won’t be able to provide for their son. Jenny is offended, and Thomas promises that if she really doesn’t want to leave then he won’t push it (The Argument). Thomas goes off to feed the lions, and we hear a roar and a scream. Casey grabs a pistol and rushes off. We hear two shots, yelling and roaring, a third shot, and then we see the shadow of the lion bounding off. Casey reenters splattered in blood. The circus Strongman carries Thomas’ body onstage and Casey reveals what happened: when Casey tried to shoot the lion, Thomas jumped in front to protect the lion and collected a bullet in his head and stomach. Jenny is devastated (The Day After That (Reprise)). She realizes Thomas’ hand is missing; the lion ate it, including the moonstone ring. Casey cancels the show, tells the troupe to pack, and leads a search party to find the lion. Jenny struggles with her life as an acrobat in the circus, and with the idea of raising Frank without Thomas. She finds the letter Thomas wrote to Catherine, checks the mailing address, and ties her own ring around Franks neck. She brings him to Catheine’s doorstep, and leaves. Catherine hears Frank crying and finds him. Reading Jenny’s note about Thomas’ death, she collapses. Jenny pledges to stay with the circus. In silhouette, Thomas rises and walks into the full moon (Somewhere).
1933: nine years later, four years into the Great Depression. The L.C. Casey Circus has returned to Philbrick for one night only, for the first time since Thomas’ death. The locals are far less welcoming now, remembering the scandal of Thomas’ death and the lion that died in the streets (Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet). Frank (now 9 years old) and his friends don’t have money to go to the circus, but they decide to sneak in.
Jenny is upset with Casey for bringing them back to Philbrick. Casey needs something to get the locals interested in the show, and he has a big idea: Jenny performing an acrobatic act as “The Sun Bird” over a ring of flames. When Jenny says no, Casey says she doesn’t have a choice (Sun Bird). Frank and his friends are caught sneaking in. Casey takes a liking to them, especially Frank, and offers them a tour of the circus grounds and first row seats at the show.
Jenny reluctantly prepares for the show, seething. She rises above the audience, just as a blood moon lunar eclipse goes into effect. Just as Jenny reaches her highest point and the sky is at its reddest, Jenny and Frank notice a ring glowing on Casey’s finger: it’s Thomas’ moonstone ring. Jenny and Casey then see Frank pull out the other ring, glowing, on a string around his neck. Jenny commences her act (Blood Moon).
Catherine has been waiting up for Frank to return home. She’s furious that he went to the circus, and he accuses her of lying about his father. At first she thinks he’s figured out the truth, but then is confused when he mentions Casey and the ring. She sends him to his room (At The Circus). Jenny arrives at Catherine’s house, and Catherine blames her for Frank’s accusations. Meanwhile, Frank is packing to run away with the circus (The Day After That (Reprise 2)). Jenny asks to see Frank before she leaves Phibrick forever, but Catherine throws her out. Catherine calls for Frank, and realizes that he’s missing.
Jenny returns to the circus grounds, and finds Frank talking to Casey in his office. Jenny accuses Casey of telling Frank the truth, and of cutting the ring off Thomas’ hand after Casey shot him. Casey tells her that when he found the lion bleeding to death in the street, he cut the ring out of the lion’s belly. Jenny says she hates Casey and that she’s leaving, but Casey grabs her arm and won’t let her go. He says she is nothing without the circus, and nothing without him (I Am The Circus). He tries to force himself on her. Frank surprises them, pointing Casey’s pistol and telling him to let her go. Catherine runs in, having figured that Frank would go to the circus. Frank says he overheard their conversation, and knows that Casey is the reason he’ll never know his dad. He drops the gun and runs to Catherine. Catherine takes the ring off his neck and gives it to Jenny who gives it to Casey, telling him to take the rings and leave her alone. The troupe dismantles the tent, and the circus is gone. Jenny burns her bird costume, and she stands with Catherine and Frank in the moonlight, welcoming the sun (The Moon (Reprise)).