MOM THEATRE BLOGGER: Side Show: Review by Robin Gorman Newman
Directed by Academy Award® and Golden Globe® winner Bill Condon (Chicago, Dreamgirls, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2, Gods and Monsters) making his Broadway directorial debut, this new staging of Side Show includes new music by multiple Grammy Award® winner, Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, and Tony Award® nominee Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls), with book and lyrics by Tony Award® nominee Bill Russell, additional book material by Bill Condon.
Side Show is inspired by the headline-making true story of the Hilton twins, Daisy and Violet, who were legends in their time and the highest paid performers on the vaudeville circuit.
The original production premiered on Broadway in 1997, and went on to earn four Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical, Best Original Score of a Musical and Best Book of a Musical.
Erin Davie (Daisy) and Emily Padgett (Violet) reprise their leading roles and make a dynamic, captivating duo. They deliver immensely affecting portrayals of the sisters conjoined at the hip. Daisy is spunky and starstruck, and Violet is lovestruck, and as different as their personalities are, they are devoted to each other, as if joined at the heart. Davie and Padgett move smoothly and harmonize beautifully, and you can’t take your eyes off them. Songs like “I Will Never Leave You,” and “Feelings You’ve Got to Hide”are just stunning and bring a tear to your eye.
The show has tremendous heart, and rings home the powerful message that we all yearn for love and acceptance, despite our differences, whether notable or not. The ending felt a bit abrupt, and I would have welcomed further character development of Foster, Connor and Jake, but there is much to like about this show.
Also in the cast are Matthew Hydzik as Buddy Foster (who marries Violet, despite being gay), Robert Joy as Sir (the Freak show ringmaster and keeper of the twins), Ryan Silverman as Terry Connor (the slimy impressario who introduces the twins to vaudeville), and David St. Louis as Jake (protector of the twins and admirer of Violet). All are on the money, and Silverman and Louis have powerhouse solos of their own.
The impressive ensemble of side show “freak” characters includes Brandon Bieber as the 3 Legged Man, Matthew Patrick Davis as the Geek, Charity Angel Dawson as the Fortune Teller, Lauren Elder as the Venus di Milo, Javier Ignacio as the Dog Boy, Jordanna James as the World’s Tiniest Woman, Kelvin Moon Loh as the Half-Man Half-Woman, Barrett Martin as the Human Pin Cushion, Don Richard as the Reptile Man, Blair Ross as the Bearded Lady, Hannah Shankman as the Tattoo Girl, Josh Walker as the World’s Tiniest Man, with Con O’Shea-Creal, Derek Hanson, and DeLaney Westfall.
Choreography is by Tony and Olivier Award® nominee Anthony Van Laast (Mamma Mia). Scenic design is by three-time Tony Award® nominee David Rockwell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray, “Academy Awards”); lighting design by nine-time Tony Award® winners Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer (Ragtime, Gypsy, Chicago); costume design by five–time Tony Award® nominee Paul Tazewell (The Color Purple, In the Heights); sound design by Tony Award® nominee Peter Hylenski (Motown, After Midnight); hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Motown); make-up design by Cookie Jordan, illusions by Paul Kieve (Pippin, Matilda, Ghost); and special make-up effects by the Academy Award® winning team Dave Elsy & Lou Elsy (X-Men, The Wolfman).
Side Show is at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Visit SideShowBroadway.com.