The musical, about Siamese-twin sisters in Vaudeville, released its cast album Dec. 9, gathering many votes from Playbill On-Line members as best of the year. With music by Henry Krieger and libretto by Bill Russell, the show will have played just under three months.
The show is closing, at a loss of an estimated $7 million, despite some good reviews (including a strong positive from the New York Times) and promotional appearances by stars Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner.
Side Show has been struggling at the box office from the beginning (Oct. 16 opening); receipts apparently did not increase enough during the holidays to support a continued run. For the week ending Dec. 14, Side Show grossed $272,444, down 8 percent from the week before. Paid attendance was only 60 percent of capacity.
Post-New Year's is, traditionally, a brutal time for Broadway and Off Broadway shows, because the tourists vacate New York and the regulars hibernate and have less spare time. Among the other shows leaving that weekend or thereabouts are Ivanov, Triumph Of Love (which posted a provisional closing notice for Dec. 21), Defying Gravity (in "Last Weeks"), Mud, River, Stone, Filumena, Mere Mortals and A Christmas Carol.
The new Broadway musical, Side Show, opened Oct. 16 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The show tells the based-on-truth story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, identical twins joined at the hip, who performed in show business in the early years of the 20th century. One twin loves the limelight; the other longs for the simpler life. How they work out their conflict and find love is the story of Side Show.
The Hiltons, who appeared in the Tod Browning movie, Freaks, are played by Ripley, who appeared as Bathsheba in King David and is best known for playing the ingenue in Broadway's Sunset Boulevard; and Skinner, who played Emily in the Madison Square Garden Christmas Carol last year.
Robert Longbottom directed and choreographed this look at carnival and vaudeville life, which has book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger, of Dreamgirls fame. Director Longbottom has staged several Radio City Music Hall seasonal spectaculars.
Jeff McCarthy plays a press agent who brings the twins out of the sideshow and puts them into vaudeville. Hugh Panaro will play his friend and partner who performs with the girls. McCarthy starred in Beauty And The Beast, Panaro in Show Boat.
The show features NY cabaret veteran Philip Officer, as both a "geek" and an ensemble member, and Ken Jennings (Tobias in Sweeney Todd).
Songs in the show include "Come Look At The Freaks," "Who Will Love Me As I Am," "Rare Songbirds On Display," "They Hardly Know I'm Around," "When I'm By Your Side," "Crazy, Deaf And Blind," "Marry Me, Terry" and "One Plus One Equals Three."
Produced by Emanuel Azenberg, Joseph Nederlander, Herschel Waxman, Janice McKenna and Scott Nederlander, Sideshowhas sets by Robin Wagner, costumes by Gregg Barnes , lighting by Brian MacDevitt, and sound by Tom Clark. David Chase serves as musical director, with Harold Wheeler doing the orchestrations.
Incredibly, Side Show is not the only Siamese twin musical on the boards. Singapore's Action Theatre presented its latest spoofy production, Chang & Eng -- The Musical, for the June 1997 Festival of Asian Arts. Even more incredibly, Side Show is not the first musical about Daisy & Violet Hilton. In Dec. 1989, Off-Broadway's WPA staged Twenty Fingers, Twenty Toes, by Michael Dansicker and Bob Nigro. Ellen Greene starred in the show, which was directed by Nigro.
Side Show tickets can be ordered by phone at (212) 307-4100 or purchased at The Richard Rodgers Theatre box office on West 46th Street in New York.