Cover photo by Bill Wisser

Dancin’ to the Calliope

Jack Gilhooley

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A funny, zany, and strangely touching tale of two performers in a carnival sideshow who plot to assassinate a rural sheriff and then kill themselves.

Production Info

Cast: 5 total (2 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 75 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“This unusual story takes a straight look at twisted lives, and makes you laugh at things you’d never expect. If you never thought murder and suicide could be funny, then you haven’t seen DANCIN’ TO CALLIOPE.” —Southern Theater

“The bizarre work is (also) enormously entertaining … Gilhooley has a keen ear for the rhythms of language and delightfully macabre sense of irony. His characters are eccentric, but they never cross the line into caricature, largely, one suspects because he truly likes and understands these people.” —The Oxford Eagle

About the Author


  • Jack Gilhooley

    Jack Gilhooley's SHE'LL STICK TO YE' has been stage read extensively in the US and UK. THE DERRY SLOPE OFF premiered at Elite Theatre in CA in Sept., 2015 and his co-authored (with his wife, Jo Morello), LIFE UPON THE WICKED STAGE was produced in Tampa Bay in Jan. 2015. His updated and overhauled THE TIME TRIAL (entire cast of 4m, 3w, two African-Americans all in their early 20s) has been reissued by Broadway Play Publishing in 2015. His latest New York production, THE XXX SCHOLAR was part of the Unchained Festival by Variations Theatre Group in 2014. It has since been rewritten and expanded as THE XXX-RATED GENIUS. His co-authored (with historian Daniel Czitrom) TRIANGLE opened at 59E59 in NYC in 2011. His dark comedy, SHOOTERS world premiered at Dublin's PurpleHeart Theatre, drew rave reviews and was recently issued – along with MUMMERS and DANCIN' TO CALLIOPE — by Broadway Play Publishing, Inc ("Plays By Jack Gilhooley"). It opened in January, 2006 at BacklotsArts in Sarasota, FL. His second Fulbright guest artist fellowship was spent at National U of Ireland/Maynooth where he wrote his Joycean dark comedy, EX-ISLES. He was awarded the first annual John Ringling Fund Artists' Fellowship for 2004-05 for GULF WARS and Florida State Enhancement grants for SHOOTERS and RED BESSIE (Daniel Czitrom, co-author). The latter play was lauded by the critics including the London Times at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was presented with the help of a Puffin Foundation grant. The play about the Spanish Civil War evolved from the author's first Fulbright grant to Spain in 1993-94. His one-man, BOSS TOM! Was optioned by the late Tony-award producer, Benjamin Mordecai. Gilhooley received Florida Artists' Grants for CONNEMARA DREAMING and for THE MACHINE. He also won the West Central Florida Playwright's Process Best Play award with AFTERLIFE (as he had with THE SPLIT co-authored with Jo Morello). He was guest playwright at The Centaur, Quebec, as the recipient of NEA International and Canada Council grants. Previously, the author received an NEA Individual Artist award in 1978 for THE MACHINE (which won Utah State U's national "Playfest" in 1995). It subsequently received rehearsed readings with Ed Asner at both the Mark Taper Forum and at The Asolo Theater in FL. He was awarded a NYFTA grant in 1991 for CONNEMARA DREAMING, which had been selected for the Carnegie Mellon 1990 Showcase of New Drama. It also won the Lexington (KY) Actors Guild Best Play Award in 1991.Gilhooley was selected as a fellow at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland (twice) and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland. An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has had many New York productions (in addition to the NY Shakespeare Festival) in the '70s, '80s and '90s, at Circle Rep, The Phoenix, the fledgling Manhattan Theatre Club, Theatre for the New City, on Theatre Row, and his works have been presented coast to coast, in Europe and in Australia. Developmental projects have been at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Aspen Playwrights Festival, Sundance Playwrights Lab, Avignon Festivaal, Mt. Sequoyah New Play Retreat and North Carolina Playwrights Festival. He was twice commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Earplay and American Playhouse). Awards include grants from PEN, the Carnegie Fund, a Shubert Fellowship and five production subsidies from the Ford Foundation. Guest artist/fellow: MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Foundation, the Millay Colony, the Albee Foundation and the Dorset Colony. Published by Samuel French, New American Library, Smith & Kraus, Palmetto Press and previously by Broadway Play Publishing ("Plays From The NY Shakespeare Festival"). He is a member of Dramatists Guild.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 7/1/2006
Pages 180
ISBN 9780881452754

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Dancin’ to the Calliope is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC