Arts & Theater

Scott Klier on running the ‘exhilarating art form’ that is the Music Circus

Music Circus artistic director Scott Klier looks at the hundreds of costume stored in the prop room of the Music Circus Theatre on June 5 in Sacramento.
Music Circus artistic director Scott Klier looks at the hundreds of costume stored in the prop room of the Music Circus Theatre on June 5 in Sacramento.

Scott Klier goes way back with Music Circus even though this year will his first season as the producing artistic director. Klier is a Sacramento native who first attended the local institution of musical theater in the round as a child with his family. He attended Loyola Marymount University and began a professional theater career in New York. In 2003, he returned to Sacramento as California Musical Theatre’s production manager. Klier has quietly worked his way up in the nationally respected organization, becoming an associate producer in 2006 and executive producer and chief operating officer in 2013. He now oversees Music Circus and he talked to The Bee about the upcoming summer season.

Q: Does it feel different being in charge and having this title?

A: What we do here is an ensemble effort and we have an extraordinary one. So I can’t say that it does feel different. It feels like a lot. But at this stage in May of every year for the last umpteen years, it’s always felt like a lot. There’s always too much to do with too few folks to do it but we’ve got great folks. And Glenn Casale (former artistic director) is still very much involved in the process so if it does feel different it only does in very subtle ways.

Q: Which is your favorite show in the season?

A: Each of these shows is like a child – I don’t have favorites. There are parts of all that concern me in their construction, in their challenges, the challenge they pose in translating into the round.

“Beauty and the Beast” has the level of production we’re not always lucky to do and that’s one of the many reasons we decided to give it two weeks, two shows worth of resources.

Few titles bring music and dance to a single piece in as thrilling a way as “On The Town.” The score is extraordinary from the genius of “West Side Story,” (by) Leonard Bernstein and it has four ballets in one musical. We’ve had to devote more rehearsal time to accomplish it – devote a lot more resources to casting it. It will be largest pit of musicians we’ve ever had at Music Circus – 18 – but that’s what this score demands.

Going into the season, “9 to 5” might have been the title that excited me the least and it very well could be the show I’m counting on enjoying the most. Not only because it’s going to be in Glenn’s hands and he is a master of musical comedy at Music Circus but our cast, which will include Vickie Lewis and Paul Schoeffler. And Dolly Parton, credit has to go to her. She is a master songwriter.

“Damn Yankees” is a classic for good reason. I’m excited about the ingredients. Michael (choreographer Michael Lichtefeld) and Charlie (director Charles Repole) are inspired individuals and we saw them at their best in “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring.

“Sister Act” is going to end the season on such a high note – it’s exhilarating music.

Q: When do you have time to look at the bigger picture?

A: That’s always been part of the process here. We don’t have the luxury of solely living in the moment even though the tasks of the moment tend to be overwhelming. But I’ll be honest: I was thinking about the 2018 season and how we’re going to construct that and where we might take some risks and what players are involved.

Q: What prepared you most for being here doing this?

A: Love for it. And a devotion to it and a lot of good luck. A lot of opportunities to study under extraordinary folks – actors, directors, producers, stage managers, stage hands, musicians. Looking back from my college years on – every experience I’ve had in between has been an education and I look forward to learning more, sometimes from the most unlikely sources. I have a huge appetite for it thanks to a childhood spent at Music Circus so it’s cyclical in a really beautiful way.

Q: What does Music Circus mean to you and what do you think it’s about at its core?

A: I believe Music Circus to be a happening. It is an exhilarating art form. It communicates on so many levels, the art of dance, as a play and no other genre has that many facets and that’s what makes it exciting and very frightening to produce. Where it’s exceptional here is we have the luxury to devote an enormous amount of resources. We are able to invest in casting, we are able to bring a significant production staff to Sacramento every summer that really is beyond comparison in my professional experience outside of Broadway.

Bringing these stories uniquely told to this audience is the other part of that. This is an exceptional audience. It is a grateful audience. This is an audience that walks into that theater in a great mood and wants to share it with that talent and this venue features that. It’s designed to make the most of that chemistry between audience and actor. There’s nothing separating any seat in that house from the most intimate moments of that story. And beyond that it’s inexplicable – three hours never to be forgotten for a variety of reasons. It’s just such a privilege to be a part of.

Marcus Crowder: 916-321-1120, @marcuscrowder

Music Circus 2017

  • “Beauty and the Beast” (June 20-July 2)
  • “On the Town” (July 11-16)
  • “9 to 5: The Musical” (July 25-30)
  • “Damn Yankees” (Aug. 8-13)
  • “Sister Act” (Aug. 22-27)

Tickets: $45-$74; for “Beauty and the Beast” only, tickets are $45 in any section for children 4-12 years old. Children under the age of 4 (including babes in arms) will not be admitted to the theater.

Information: 916-557-1999 or