Come Look at the Freaks — Again; Condon Attached as Director of Revised Side Show

News   Come Look at the Freaks — Again; Condon Attached as Director of Revised Side Show
Side Show, the cult Tony Award-nominated musical about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, seen in a short Broadway run in 1997-98, is being revised by creators Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, under the guidance of director Bill Condon.
Bill Condon
Bill Condon

Russell remains the lyricist and Krieger is the composer. Hollywood's Condon, who directed and wrote the film of Krieger's "Dreamgirls" and wrote the screenplay of the Academy Award-winning "Chicago," expressed to Krieger in 2007 that he'd like to take a crack at directing a new stage version of Side Show one day, and the ball began to roll.

Roundabout Theatre Company will sponsor a Condon-helmed spring reading of the new material, has learned. No casting has been revealed. A late May presentation date is likely.

As is the custom with developmental readings at the Roundabout, there is no promise that Side Show will get a full production at the not-for-profit, but the reading news is enough to whet the appetite of countless fans who cherish the cast album of the pop-and-pastiche infused score.

There have been regional revivals of the musical since it ended its run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in January 1998, after only 91 performances.

The musical told the tale of real-life sisters attached at the hip — literally. ("Siamese twins" is the old parlance; "conjoined twins" is now preferred.) The women navigate their feelings and dream of love and life beyond the freak show. On Broadway, Alice Ripley played Violet and Emily Skinner played Daisy. The roles — asking them to belt irony-free anthems such as "I Will Never Leave You" — made them theatre stars and earned them both Tony nominations. The show, score and book were also Tony-nommed.

"I think the show is substantially different and substantially the same," Russell told "By that I mean, we're keeping all the big showpiece numbers…but we've written new material and restructured the show."

The musical will remain in a two-act form, according to Russell, who said he's had some of the rewrite ideas in the back of his mind for years, prompted in part by seeing regional productions in the past decade.

"But we've really re-explored the whole show," he admitted, and Condon is full of fresh ideas. "He's brilliant, I just love the guy — he's so smart, so open, and he loves the show..."

Robert Longbottom directed and choreographed the Broadway original, which featured Jeff McCarthy and Hugh Panaro as the ladies' love interests.

Musical numbers in the show included "Come Look at the Freaks," "Like Everyone Else," "You Deserve a Better Life," "Crazy, Deaf and Blind," "The Devil You Know," "More Than We Bargained For," "Feelings You've Got to Hide," "When I'm by Your Side," "Say Goodbye to the Freak Show," "Overnight Sensation," "Leave Me Alone," "We Share Everything," "The Interview," "Who Will Love Me as I Am?," "Rare Songbirds on Display," "New Year's Day," "Private Conversation," "One Plus One Equals Three," "You Should Be Loved," "Tunnel of Love," "Beautiful Day for a Wedding," "Marry Me, Terry" and "I Will Never Leave You."

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