Bill Russell will direct the musical Side Show, which he co-wrote with Henry Krieger, in a winter production at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN. The staging will run Jan. 9 through Feb. 16, 2002, with an opening night Jan. 12.
The show will mark the first time Russell has directed the cult musical, which had a brief run on Broadway in 1997 but has since developed a devoted following. Artistic director Richard Cook told Playbill On-Line that he and Russell have known each other since attending graduate school together in Sioux City, Iowa. Recently, the two men reconnected, and talk of a production of Side Show began. "We became interested in the show and knew Bill was directing his own work It became a natural to invite him," said Cook.
Park Square is celebrating 27 years of business in 2002. The company began its life in the mid-'70s in a second story warehouse theatre space in St. Paul. Currently, it boasts a yearly budget of $1,500,000 and an audience of 50,000.
Side Show represents a departure for the company, which has made its reputation with productions of classics and local premieres. "This is a little muscle stretching for us," said Cook.
The unlikely tuner is about real-life conjoined sisters Violet and Daisy Hilton, who forged a career in show business. Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner famously played the parts on Broadway. The MN cast features a host of local talents. Last year, the Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, achieved a solid hit with a production of the work. For serious fans of the musical, the St. Paul staging will be of particular interest: Russell has reinserted a song cut during Broadway previews — a solo by Violet called "She's Gone."