The Chicago-area premiere of the cult musical, Side Show, opens May 24 at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, with Kristen Behrendt and Susie McMonagle as respective conjoined sisters Violet and Daisy.
Behrendt understudied Violet on Broadway (and went on) during the musical's brief run in 1997. She later played Daisy in the Theatreworks staging in Palo Alto, CA. Both actresses have played Fantine in Broadway's Les Miserables.
The musical by composer Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls) and lyricist Bill Russell (Pageant) concerns the rise of real-life "Siamese" twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (born in 1908), who leave the freak show to star in vaudeville and question their place in society.
Previews began May 17 and performances continue to July 2 at Northlight's 350-seat thrust space.
Joe Leonardo directs a company that includes Paul Alessandro, Roger Anderson, Nikkieli DeMone (as Jake), Tommy Hahn, Cory James, Heidi Kettenring, Melissa LaFrance, Jill Monaco, James Moye (as Terry), Phillip Pickens, Sam Samuelson (as Buddy), Neda Spears, Andrew Waters and Jonathan Weir. Designers are Tom Ryan (set), Nancy Missimi (costumes), Michael Philippi (lighting) and Joe Cerqua (sound).
Choreography is by Marc Robin, musical direction is by Jeff Lewis.
Tickets are $32-$42. Northlight is at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie. For information, call (847) 673-6300.
Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, is also staging Side Show this month, under Joe Calarco's direction. The musical had a short run in fall 1997 starring Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, but its cast album helped generate a loyal following.
-- By Kenneth Jones