Friday, October 2, 2015

Review of Porchlight Music Theatre's Side Show

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Side Show. The book and lyrics were by Bill Russell and the music was by Henry Krieger. It was directed by Michael Weber with music direction by Aaron Benham, and the choreography was by Andrew Waters. It was about these two girls named Violet (Britt-Marie Sivertsen) and Daisy (Colleen Fee) Hilton and they were conjoined twins, which means they could never go apart from each other even though sometimes they got tired of each other. They had worked at a very low-profile sideshow and they had been the stars, but then one day a producer from the Orpheum Circuit, Terry (Matthew Keffer), comes and tells them he wants to help them and work with them with his friend Buddy (Devin DeSantis). But of course, their boss Sir (Matthias Austin) does not like losing his biggest attraction. Of course, they are not supposed to be just an attraction; they are human beings. The rest of the show is them making their way in the Orpheum Circuit and they both fall in love but they can't be separated from the other one. It is a true story and I think that it was a really amazing show. I loved the music and the acting was great. When you think of a huge broadway musical you don't really think of a show like this. They are about conflicts with love usually. But this is not just about men needing women or women needing men. It is about sisters needing each other.

Jake (Evan Tyrone Martin) sometimes seemed like the only male character who was not self-absorbed and who actually loved the twins. I love the scene where Jake confesses something to one of the girls and basically says, "I like you for who you are. I don't care if you are conjoined. It won't matter as long as I am with you." I loved the song that went with it, "You Should be Loved." It was just so sad that the girls hadn't realized the truth about Buddy yet, because maybe then things might have gone better for Jake. He actually understood that the girls wanted to have relationships but still not change who they were. But Terry did not understand that. When Browning (Peter Eli Johnson) shows up, he wants them to stay conjoined, but not because they want to be; he wants to have a movie about them because he thinks they are just freaks. Freak is just a terrible word because it just means someone who is different but it implies that they are different in a bad way. The character of Jake shows us the racism of the time period by showing how Sir casts him as a cannibal, and how a conjoined twin getting married was less shocking than people of two different races getting married. I just found that so terrible because there were probably lots of people who were in love with people of a different race and they couldn't be together.

The sisters really needed each other because they had been together for so long and they really couldn't part with each other. The sisters are pretty different from each other even though they are identical. Daisy is a very flirty girl and Violet always looks before she leaps. But they still are conjoined twins so sometimes it gets hard when one person wants to do one thing and another wants to do another. I really loved "Who Will Love Me as I Am" which was a song about how they wanted to be able to stay with their sister and still have a family or a boyfriend. I found it so sweet and sad and I just wanted to leap out of the audience and say, "It's ok!" You just want to help these girls and this musical is just so beautiful and heartbreaking. I felt sad for them when they had to leave the sideshow, even though they didn't like it there and would be happier on the Orpheum Circuit, because they had to leave all their friends behind. Then when they sang the song, "Say Goodbye to the Sideshow" it was so sad because they had to leave their friends behind for a better life.

I especially liked the opening number where they introduced all the attractions of the sideshow. I thought the entire ensemble was amazing when they came together in that opening number. It started out the show so well, and I really loved the opening number because of the music and all the different attractions coming onstage. It turned out to be a very fun and exciting opening number. One of my favorite scenes was when a few of the people from the sideshow--the Geek (Ben Kaye), the Half-Man/Half-Woman (Deanna Myers), and the Fortune Teller (Veronica Garza)--opened up a bakery. I thought that was so hilarious because it is not the kind of thing you think people from a sideshow would start doing. It told you that they were actually just very sweet people who had been put in a freak show and that they just wanted a normal life where they could bake cakes and open up a bakery. I thought that Sir was so mean to everybody in his sideshow because it would be like asking actors to do a show 3 times a day and then do housework for your boss who does nothing but gets all the money.

People who would like this show are people who like talented twins, amazing music, and sideshow baked goods. I think people should definitely go see this show. I think it is a great show and people in the show have amazing talent. I really loved it.

Photos: Anthony Robert LaPenna

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