Poetry Contest for Kids!

City Circle Kids’ Poetry Contest for The Hobbit


There and Back Again…

Poetry Contest for Kids!

Those who are familiar with The Hobbit will know that verse is one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s key methods of storytelling. His dwarves chant, his elves sing, even most of the history of Middle Earth is told at one point or another through meter and rhyme. Like the ancient Norse myths from which he drew inspiration, Tolkien was aware of something grand, something honorable, something important in the telling of a poem. With that in mind, City Circle’s Education Committee is teaming up with local poetry ‘zine Weird Cookies Poetry and a panel of “celebrity” judges to offer a poetry contest in conjunction with our production of The Hobbit. Kids in grades 4-6 and grades 7-8 are encouraged to submit their original work of great adventure!

Poems should be no more than 2 pages in length and should touch on the theme of traveling, history, or folklore. Share your vision of “the Greatest Adventure!” Submissions are due by Oct 15, and can be emailed to hobbitpoetry@gmail.com. They must include the student’s name, grade, and best contact info. The top three poets in each of the two grade ranges will be invited with a guest to the preview performance of the play. The winner in each category will be published in an upcoming issue of Weird Cookies Poetry. Students from throughout the Corridor are encouraged to submit their work. Join us in our (and Tolkien’s) passion for verse!

Meet Our Educators!

Get to know the wonderful theater educators who teach our ever-expanding range of class offerings. Check this page often as we work on including all of our amazing roster of artists!

Dawn Clark

Dawn Clark—Dawn has been involved in theater since the age of 10, when she was Teacher Munchkin #1 in The Wizard of Oz. She is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa with a BA in Theatre and a certificate in Performing Arts Entrepreneurship. Some of her favorite roles include “Sarah Brown” – Guys and Dolls; “Narrator” – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; “Witch” – Into the Woods; “Violet” – Wonderful Town; and “Mime” – The Arkansaw Bear (pictured). During the day, Dawn provides in-home childcare for up to six children ages birth – 5 years. In the evenings, she is a wife to Bryan and mother to Avery, Roman, Mazie, and Eliot. Dawn is passionate about sharing her love of theater with even the youngest of learners. Come join the team and have fun with us!

Classes Taught:
Current—Not Your Mama’s Drama…
Past—Drama Kings and Queens


Jean Grewe

Jean Grewe—Jean has been teaching in the elementary grades for 22 years. She has worked with community theaters for at least 10 years, and is in her 2nd year living here in Iowa. She loves being on stage as well as working backstage on costumes, set, tech, etc. She’s a guitarist and pianist, and has directed MANY school musicals and plays. Her favorite roles include Sister “Margaretta” in The Sound of Music and “Mammy” in Li’l Abner, and she was seen most recently onstage as “Mrs. Fezziwig” in City Circle Acting Company’s 2011 production of A Christmas Carol (pictured). She has served as costume designer for City Circle Acting Company on A Christmas CarolGuys and Dolls, Legally Blonde, and Noises Off, and also for Gigi at Iowa City Community Theater, where she is currently working on costumes for Steel Magnolias.

Classes Taught:
Current—Theater Antics, Theater Extravaganza
Past—Theater Antics



James Trainor

James E. Trainor III—James has taught theatre classes for children for six years. He graduated from Cornell College with a Bachelor of Special Studies in Playwriting. He works as an Associate in a special education classroom in the Iowa City Community School District and volunteers for local theatres. He was recently seen in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ production of Alice in Wonderland as the “March Hare” (pictured), and is currently directing The Hobbit for City Circle Acting Company. In addition, he teaches the weekly Drama Club at Northwest Junior High and he helped develop classes for students on the autism spectrum at Theatre Cedar Rapids.

Classes Taught:
Current—Write On!, Dig in Deep, Embark with the Bard
Past—Stepping on Stage, Not Your Mama’s Drama


edu bio pic jenn
Jennifer TillapaughJennifer recently graduated from The University of Iowa with a Master’s of Fine Arts in Theatre Design. She is now freelancing as a lighting and scenic designer in the Coralville area. Jennifer has worked professionally designing the lighting for City Circle’s Noises Off, University of Iowa Summer Rep’s What the Butler Saw, Muscatine Academy’s June 2012 recital, Nolte’s Academy of Dance Seasons concert, and Dan Knight’s Walt Whitman Suite. At The University of Iowa, Jennifer has designed the lighting for Dance Thesis 1 (Chun & Myers), Beginning Again All The Time (Barr, Genta, & Maris dance thesis), Continuing to (w)Rite (Cortes, Glenn, Lin, & Vigmostad dance thesis), & Salvage (theatre premier). She has also previously designed the scenery for City Circle’s Legally Blonde: the Musical, and the UI theatre premiers of All That Shines, the 2011 Collaborative Performance Concert: Tales of Mortals, Gods, and the Things They Do, Martha Clarke’s In The Night, Humbaba, and Columpio.

Classes Taught:
Current—Theater Craft—Behind the Spotlight


K. Lindsay EavesK. Lindsay Eaves—Lindsay is a human paleontologist/comparative anatomist by vocation, a stage-performer by avocation and a drama queen by temperament. Recent stage credits include Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (“Trisha”); Dreamwell Theatre’s The Crucible (“Abigail Williams”), Henry the Fifth (“Gower” & “Grey”), and Soldier’s Daughter (“Aria,” pictured, and “Mother”) and Iowa City Community Theatre’s Gigi (“Jacqueline de Beautemps”/Ensemble) and Last of the Red Hot Lovers (“Bobbi Michele”). She can be seen on stage October 26-November 4, 2012 in City Circle Acting Company’s The Hobbit, directed by James Trainor. She has taught both horseback-riding and swimming to kids 2-16 in formal settings and at the YMCA; taught speech events and coached Barbara Jordan Urban Debate League (including one national team) for urban high schoolers at Soldan International High School and as part of the Bridge Institute. she has participated in theatre since she was a kid, including drama camps, plays in grade school, high school, college and locally in the last two years, and competed in speech events and debate from junior high through undergrad, winning national honors.

Classes Taught:
Past—Time to PLAY! October session.

City Circle Seeks a Part Time Office Manager

City Circle Acting Company of Coralville is looking to hire an Office Manager for part time employment. The position is responsible for managing communications with members and donors and working with the Board to produce high quality performances and educational services.

The right candidate will be organized, with strong interpersonal skills. He or she must be self-motivated and have superior time management skills; the position is highly independent.

The work is mostly home-based, with occasionally pick-up/delivery. Most weeks will require 5-10 hours, at least one hour a day. The ideal candidate will know some publishing software and can commit for three years. This job has significant potential for increase in responsibility and hours as the organization grows.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to chair@citycircle.org. Candidate review will begin October 1 and continue until the position is filled.

Audition Dates Set for A Christmas Carol

A Holiday Tradition Returns!

The air has only just started to taste of fall, but here at City Circle, we’re already thinking about Christmas… and the winter magic of A Christmas Carol. Now is your chance to join the Cratchit family or channel your spookiest apparition. This adaptation, by Barbara Field, was a beloved staple for many years at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Auditions will be held on Thursday, Sep 20, 6-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sep 22, 1:30-4:30 p.m., at the Coralville Public Library.

Director Liz Tracey will be asking auditioners to either read sides from the show or recite a prepared monologue. She would also like to hear each person sing a snippet from their favorite Christmas carol. She is hoping for a broad and diverse cast, and encourages actors of all ages and backgrounds to audition. See below for a complete list of roles and their descriptions.

No one can resist the rush of joy A Christmas Carol brings. Come help City Circle warm the most humbug hearts this holiday season! The show runs Dec 14-16 and 21-23 at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. Contact the director at liz@citycircle.org with any questions, or to schedule an alternate audition time.



  • EBENEZER SCROOGE:  A hard-hearted, tight-fisted man of commerce who transforms into a large-hearted, generous and compassionate man. There is underlying comedy in Dicken’s writing of Scrooge. His wit is dry and sarcastic in nature.
  • JACOB MARLEY:  Scrooge’s business partner who died on Christmas eve 7 years prior to the beginning of the story. Appears as ghost to warn Scrooge against living only for profit. Decrepit, older man, who exhibits the strains of living in purgatory.
  • BOB CRATCHIT:  Scrooge’s middle-aged overworked and underpaid clerk, who nonetheless finds great joy in life, especially in the love of his large family. He is most likely skinny (due to a lack of food), with a childlike innocence and sense of fun.
  • FRED:  Scrooge’s nephew (the son of his deceased sister Fran) who like Bob, maintains a child-like enjoyment of life and family. A generous attitude towards his miserly uncle. He is of a higher economic status than Bob, yet shows sympathy and kindness towards him.
  • FORREST:  A charitable citizen, trying to raise money for the poor. Described as “lean and deaf as a post”. Comedic possibilities, will consider man or woman for the part.
  • BLAKELY:  Forrest’s comedic side-kick. As round as Forrest is lean. Again, could be cast as man or woman.
  • MRS. GRIMSBY:  Scrooge’s house servant. Older woman with nothing to smile about working for Scrooge. Living with low wages, in a depressingly cheap, under-lit and under-heated house.
  • YOUNG EBENEZER:  Around 10yrs. old. Sad and lonely boy.
  • SCHOOLBOYS:  Billy, Thomas, Jeremiah. Classmates of Ebenezer, youthful, ages flexible.
  • FAN:  Ebenezer’s sister. “A delicate creature, possessing a generous spirit”, about 10-12 yrs. old. Dies a young woman, with one child, Fred.
  • EBENEZER:  A young man of 20. Socially inept and insecure due to his father’s neglect and abandonment. He was not raised in a strong family environment but rather sent away to boarding school. Starts working full-time at 14 years of age. Fear of ending up in the poor house leads him to be obsessive about making money and insensitive to others.
  • BELLE:  Beautiful young woman, open and kind-hearted. A governess. Ebenezer immediately falls for her.
  • WILLIAM:  Belle’s charge, no specific age. Energetic.
  • ANNA:  William’s sister. Again, age is flexible.
  • DICK WILKINS:  Ebenezer’s co-worker, around 20 yrs. old. Energetic and happy nature.
  • FEZZIWIG:  Young Ebenezer’s first employer. A generous man to his employees, who exemplifies the joy of Christmas spirit. Jovial and round. Lives life to excess…laughter, love, food, music.
  • MRS. FEZZIWIG:  “Beautiful and bountiful” wife of Fezziwig. Doting wife and mother of two daughters. Also extremely jovial and round.
  • PETUNIA:  Eligible young daughter of Fezziwigs. Potentially comic character.
  • MARIGOLD:  Another eligible young daughter of Fezziwigs.
  • BASIL & MARJORAM…Fezziwig’s little children. Indeterminate ages, boy and girl.
  • COOK:  Brings on food for Fezziwig’s party.
  • YOUNG MARLEY:  Ambitious, eager to make money, even on Christmas eve. A man who doesn’t let “sentiment” get in the way of business. Fezziwig thinks he has no heart at all.
  • FIRST MAN & SECOND MAN:  Two men arguing before being touched by Ghost of Christmas Present
  • MRS. CRATCHIT:  Bob Cratchit’s wife, a middle-aged woman, worn thin but full of love and concern for her family.
  • BELINDA CRATCHIT:  Bob Cratchit’s daughter and mother’s little helper.
  • MARTHA CRATCHIT:  Daughter lives with family and works 14 hour days making hats.
  • PETER CRATCHIT:  Son who “has grown as tall as Martha”, probably a young teen.
  • TOM CRATCHIT:  Shorter than Peter but old enough to pester his brother.
  • TINY TIM:  Youngest of the CRATCHIT clan and walks with a crutch. Small enough to be carried by his brothers.
  • MRS. FRED:  Fred’s cheerful, young wife who is “quite pregnant”.
  • TOPPER:  A gentleman friend of Fred. Upper class, single.
  • DOROTHEA:  Mrs Fred’s sister and the object of Topper’s affection
  • SOPHIA:  Mrs. Fred’s other sister, “the quiet one”.
  • CECIL:  Companion of Fred. Upper class.
  • EDWARDS:  Another friend of Fred. Enjoys socializing with friends. His age is undetermined.
  • 4 MEN OF BUSINESS:  Snarkers, Grasper, Krookings and Squeeze. As the names that Dicken’s bestows on these men implies; vulture types, ready to turn a profit.
  • JOE:  Proprietor of a “Rag and Bones” shop. A grimy rascal.
  • MRS. DILBER:  A laundress, “whose little ones never get enough to eat” .
  • UNDERTAKER:  Makes money off Scrooge’s meager possessions.
  • SIMON:  A ragged boy who runs an errand for Scrooge.
  • POULTERER:  Presents Scrooge with a prize size bird.
  • THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST:  Personification of memory. In order for Scrooge to grow as a human being, he must learn from the past. The light that shines from this Ghost’s head symbolizes the  “illumination” which can come from reflecting on one’s past. He calls himself a “gadfly” which is a person who provokes others into action by criticism. Like a horsefly that bites livestock, he or she is sprite, enthusiastic about his or her job, and quite annoying to Scrooge.
  • THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT:  Personification of generosity. His appearance is large, bedecked with an abundance of fruits, vegetables and sweets. He is Like our jolly old St. Nick, generous in spirit as well as material things.
  • THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE:  A personification of death. The Grim Reaper, austere, and frightening in his silence. His face, masked in the shadows of darkness, reminds Scrooge that time waits for no one. He does not converse, he only points to the obvious end, the grave.
  • NARRATOR:  Narration will be divided amongst cast.

Fall Theater Class Offerings for 2012

Back-to-School Time at City Circle!
The leaves are shifting hue, the heat is… slightly less oppressive, and all through the Corridor, children are donning their thinking caps. What better subject to study than theater? City Circle Acting Company is offering a multitude of options for young theater lovers this fall!We’re joining forces once again with the Coralville Parks and Recreation department to offer classes through their Leisure Line. In the physical copy, we’re on page 23; you can also register online by visiting http://activenet21.active.com/coralvillerecreation/ and searching for each class by name. You can contact Coralville Parks and Recreation at 319.248.1750.

Our Class Offerings
Time to PLAY!: Ages 3-5. Two 3-week sessions still available. Saturdays 10-10:40 a.m. Oct 6-20; Nov 3-17. “Actors spend so much time discovering their inner child: now it’s time for your child to discover their inner actor! Pre-schoolers will have a blast doing what they do best – pretending. These sessions are just the right length to pique your child’s interest in theater, with games and activities geared towards drawing out their natural creativity.”

Theater Antics: Grades K-2. One 5-week session still available. Saturdays 11 a.m.-12 noon. Oct 20-Nov 17. “Find yourselves transported to worlds of your own creation as you thrill to the wild world of theater. Let your imagination soar and learn how to share it with others! You’ll create wacky characters in zany situations, all while learning about life on stage through movement, voice exploration, and a whole lot of fun.”

Not Your Mama’s Drama: Grades 3-6. One 6-week session. Saturdays 2-3 p.m. Oct 6-Nov 10. “Here’s where the fun really begins! Have a passion for the theater? Start honing your performance skills with games and activities to help you grow as an actor. You’ll work on story-telling, voice, and movement as well as starting some basic scene work. Come meet all of the different people you never knew you could become!”

We’re also offering classes on the No-School Days this fall!
“The Hobbit” Make-Up Experience: Grades 3-6. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Fri, Nov 9.
“A Christmas Carol” Victorian Experience: Grades 3-6. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thu and Fri, Dec 20-21.

Jump-start the love of theater in your little one’s life. Enroll them in a class with City Circle!

The Hobbit is Cast!

Where else but in the best fantasy literature can you find imperious elves, steadfast hobbits, wizened wizards, proud dwarves, and redoubtable dragons? Why, here at City Circle, of course! After two fantastic evenings of auditions, director James Trainor has made some tough decisions, and assembled a wonderful group. Trainor says he was very impressed by the creativity of everyone who came out, and only wishes there was a way to cast everyone. For anyone not cast, be sure to keep an eye on the auditions page for future opportunities! Without further ado, we are proud to introduce you to the newest denizens of Middle Earth:

  • Bilbo – Elijah Jones
  • Thorin – Kyle Lefeber
  • Dwalin – Katrina Tanner
  • Balin – Serena Collins
  • Bofur – Anna Lindower
  • Bombur – Miriam Marlowe
  • Bifur – Andy Stewart
  • Ori – Madeline Nachtman
  • Nori – Anna Huffer
  • Dori – Abby Nachtman
  • Oin – Asjah Weber
  • Gloin – Mia Olson
  • Kili – Tobey Epstein
  • Fili – Frances Bottorff
  • Gandalf – Kim Qual
  • Gollum – Jilly Cooke
  • Smaug – Anna Baynton
  • Essie – Tempest Wisdom
  • Tom – Logan Natvig
  • Bert – James Toth
  • Great Goblin – Keon Hunt
  • Attendant Goblin – James Toth
  • Elven-Queen – Rebecca Marlowe
  • Goblin/Elf 1 – Libby Ruth
  • Goblin/Elf 2 – K. Lindsay Eaves
  • Ensemble – Sam Nester
  • Ensemble – Evan Zwkin

Congratulations to the cast, and to all who auditioned.

Rehearsals will begin Tuesday, Sep 4 at 6 p.m., Community of Christ Church; the show opens October 26. Contact cc.thehobbit@gmail.com with any questions, or if you’re interested in volunteering for the show in another capacity.


*updated 10/4/12

City Circle calls for New Play Festival submissions

City Circle Acting Company is seeking new, original, unpublished plays for inclusion in its bi-annual New Play Festival. Any author is welcome to submit up to three original plays or musicals, but priority will be given to submissions that:

  • are created by a local author or an author with strong Iowa ties;
  • are able to be performed with simple set, costume and technical demands;
  • are approximately 10 minutes in length;
  • are receiving their debut performance at this festival.

The chosen plays will be performed as part of City Circle’s New Play Festival March 8-10, 2013, at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. Interested playwrights may send plays or request information by contacting CityCircleNewPlay@gmail.com. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2012.


The Hobbit auditions set for Aug. 28-29

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Millions of imaginations have been born from this unassuming first line of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 masterpiece and, director James Trainor reminds us, “The Hobbit continues to capture new imaginations over the years.” For generations, children have learned about adventure through the wide eyes of Bilbo Baggins, and this fall City Circle will be weaving the magic of Middle Earth on the CCPA stage. The script, adapted by Patricia Gray in 1968, is a popular property in its own right, and City Circle is excited to be bringing it to the Corridor.

There are a wide variety of opportunities for actors in this show. Trainor says, “this will be a youth-focused production, but there will be parts for adults as well, and the finished product is sure to be fun for the whole family.” City Circle is thrilled to announce the detailed audition information:

  • Bilbo Baggins  The titular hobbit. A reluctant adventurer. (Male, age 12-18)
  • Thorin Oakenshield  The king of the dwarves. A bold leader. (Male, age 18-22)
  • 12 Dwarves  Adventurers on a quest for wealth and fame (Male or Female, age 8-16)
  • Gandalf  An ancient wizard who aids the wee folk in their quest. (Male, age 40+)
  • Gollum  A hideous creature, corrupted by the Ring of Power. (Male or Female, age 8-16)
  • Smaug  A dragon who guards treasure taken from Thorin’s ancestors (Male or Female, age 18+)
  • Elven-Queen  Queen of the Elves. Smaug also stole her people’s treasure. (Female, age 18+)
  • Bert  A troll (Male, age 18+)
  • Tom  Another troll (Male, age 18+)
  • Essie  Another troll (Female, age 18+)
  • [various Goblins, Hobbits, and Elves for smaller roles]

Trainor says that he is “excited to guide young actors through the magical world of Middle-Earth,” but doesn’t want you to forget the wide range of opportunities available. “If you’re 8 or 80 and love the stage, come out and audition!”

Auditions run 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28, and Wednesday, Aug. 29, and will be held in the E. Jean Schwab Auditorium at the Coralville Public Library. Rehearsals will begin after Labor Day, and the show opens October 26. Contact cc.thehobbit@gmail.com with any questions.

Urinetown replacing Spring Awakening in 2012-13 season

City Circle Acting Company of Coralville is excited to announce Urinetown as an addition to its 2012-13 season. Directed by Jesse Jensen, the uproariously funny musical is scheduled to take the stage Feb. 1-10, 2013, at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts.

“We chose this musical because we felt it was cutting-edge, interesting, new, and particularly interesting in our current political climate,” said Dawn Clark, chair of City City Circle’s Board of Directors. “We chose Jesse as the director because he has an exciting vision for this show. He is relatively new to the area and brings an energetic voice.”

Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides he’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom.

Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, Urinetown is an irreverently humorous satire in which no one is safe from scrutiny. Praised for reinvigorating the very notion of what a musical could be, it catapults the “comedic romp” into the new millennium with its outrageous perspective, wickedly modern wit, and sustained ability to produce gales of unbridled laughter.

The characters of Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell were both included on New York Theatre Monthly’s list of “The 100 Greatest Roles in Musical Theatre”.

Written by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, members of Chicago’s fringe theatre scene, Urinetown opened during the 1999 New York Fringe Festival and transferred to Broadway in 2001. It won three Tony Awards among its 10 nominations.

Jensen is a recent transplant from Chicago where he spent many years acting, directing, and teaching theatre. He studied acting and new play development at the University of South Dakota, where he received his BFA. In addition to directing musical mainstays like Damn Yankees, Jensen has work-shopped and directed many original works featuring a variety of age groups. Urinetown’s grittiness, edge, commentary, and irreverence appeal to his interest and background in developing works that challenge the theatre’s conventions.


Spring Awakening to be replaced in 2012-13 season

City Circle Acting Company of Coralville has cancelled its production of Spring Awakening scheduled for Feb. 1-10, 2013, and will fill the opening in the season schedule with a show to be determined in the coming weeks.

The decision to replace the production was not an easy one, said Dawn Clark, chair of City Circle’s Board of Directors. But with Spring Awakening being produced by both the University of Iowa and Theatre Cedar Rapids in the coming year, the Board saw this as an opportunity to better serve the audience.

“With respect to our neighboring theater companies and wishing to offer our audiences unique and compelling theater experiences and opportunities, the Board decided it would be best to change our season,” Clark said.

Clark expects a replacement show to be announced by the end of July.

For more information on City Circle, visit http://citycircle.org.