Is the New Production of Side Show Being Groomed for a Broadway Return?

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10 Jul 2013

A revised production of the 1997 Tony Award-nominated musical Side Show, which will play engagements at the La Jolla Playhouse and the Kennedy Center, may have Broadway in its future.

The New York Post states that "Broadway is definitely a possibility" for the newly-revised production of the musical about real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton.

Academy Award winner Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") will help give new dramatic shape to the dark, pop-driven musical that has a score by Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls) and Bill Russell (Elegies for Angels...), who also wrote the book, and contains numerous stand-out songs, including "Who Will Love Me As I Am?"

A source close to the production told Playbill.com July 10 that the creative team is hopeful for a Broadway run following Side Show's engagements at the La Jolla Playhouse (Nov. 5-Dec. 15) and the Kennedy Center (June 14-July 15, 2014).

In recent seasons the Kennedy Center productions of Ragtime and Follies transferred to Broadway after their Washington, D.C. runs.



Additional details about the production have also been revealed. Anthony Van Laast, who choreographed Sister Act, Bombay Dreams and Mamma Mia!, will choreograph.

An earlier casting notice also reveals the addition of several characters who will help conjure the world of the Hilton twins, who became notorious in side shows and later transitioned into Vaudeville and film.

Among the new characters are Harry Houdini; Texas lawyer Martin Arnold; Loretta, a Hedda Hopper-like gossip columnist; as well as the characters of Auntie and Sir, based on the twins' real life caretakers Mary Hilton and her husband, who helped birth the U.K.-born twins and originally exploited them for monetary gain.

"Henry and I are thrilled to be doing more work with Bill Condon on this piece," book writer and lyricist Russell previously told Playbill.com. "We've already done quite a bit of rethinking, re-examining and revising of it together and his brilliance and passion for the show are inspiring. Long-time fans of the original should not be alarmed. Though we're excited by this opportunity to take another look at the material, the essence of the show is still intact."

Krieger's score propels the mostly sung-through musical that traces the lives of the Hilton twins from their rough upbringing in a traveling freak show, to their turn as celebrated Vaudeville stars, who were never able to live a life apart from the curious eyes of the public. A cast album preserves many of the songs from the production, but large sections of Kreiger and Russell's recitative that link the action were unrecorded.

Side Show debuted on Broadway Sept. 19, 1997, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Though its Broadway run was brief, at only 91 performances, Side Show has garnered a legion of fans. Robert Longbottom directed the original production that starred Tony nominee Emily Skinner and Tony Award winner Alice Ripley as Daisy and Violet Hilton, respectively. The actresses shared a Tony Award nomination for their work. The original cast also included Norm Lewis, Hugh Panaro and Jeff McCarthy.