BWW Blog: Abigail Shapiro - SIDE SHOW at the Kennedy Center in DC

"Vacation, all I ever wanted!" to quote the Go-Gos. After our most recent series of concerts at 54 BELOW, and once school was out, we finally went on vacation. To kick off our newly discovered free time, we took a road trip to visit friends and family in our old hometown of Tampa, Florida, making a pit stop at our nation's capital along the way for the night.

I hopped into the car after seeing The Fault In Our Stars with a bunch of friends, excited to begin the road trip. Well, for those of you who have been on a road trip before, you will understand--my enthusiasm quickly started to drift away, the ride feeling so long and tedious, making time move slower. It took almost two hours just to get out of the city and on top of that, we made a bunch of wrong turns on the way to Washington D.C.

But, we did have some diversions prepared in advance. We listened to some of our 54 BELOW shows and chose songs that would be a good fit for our upcoming CD. We also listened to mystery audiobooks (which didn't seem to last for long), watched some episodes of Cosmos on Milly's computer, and listened to a few cast recordings. After what seemed like forever, we finally entered Washington D.C., at a late hour, too tired to plan out exactly what we wanted to do the next day. We instantly found ourselves fast asleep.

Washington D.C. is gorgeous. We planned our day as soon as the sun rose... well, more accurately, around noon, but we started our day as soon as we could! Memorials were definitely on the list so we visited the Lincoln, Jefferson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials, and more. On the way to the Jefferson Memorial, we rented paddleboats that gave us a chance to see the wonderful water view. We also took a ride on the top of a double-decker bus, allowing us to take in the scenery, the White House and the many other attractions D.C. has to offer. We returned to the hotel, got all dressed up, and went off to the Kennedy Center to see the show.

We were then lucky enough to see a production of Side Show at the Kennedy Center. For those of you that haven't had the chance to see our "Shapiro Sisters: Live Out Loud!" at 54 BELOW concert, we end each show with "I Will Never Leave You" from Side Show, so seeing a live production had a particularly special meaning to us.

We were impressed by the quality of the musical. Milly was quite interested in the makeup and costumes and she pointed out how intricate they were, and I thought the score was fantastic.

Larry Lelli, a former Matilda drummer, now the principal drummer in this production, gave us a backstage tour. We got to see props, costumes, and more. He also introduced us to many of the cast members, including Emily Padgett, Erin Davie, Robert Joy, Hannah Shankman, Brandon Bieber, and more.

I noticed the women playing the sisters, Emily Padgett and Erin Davie, did not in fact look much alike in person without their stage attire. However their makeup and costumes achieved their goal for looking identical. When we were talking with them, their hips unintentionally migrated together. Well, that shows the amount of practice they had!

Members of the cast told us that the book of the musical had been altered to focus more on the Hilton twins instead of other characters and removing or replacing a number of songs from the original book. From what I saw, these changes were significant compared to the cast recording. I would've loved to have seen the original Broadway production so I could compare the two! But ultimately, the show went beyond our expectations, in fact, so did our capital.

Road trips can be quite enjoyable, if you have the necessary "entertainment" planned, but family members can definitely get on each other's nerves, cooped up in a car for 20 hours! Our capital is beautiful indeed, and in a limited amount of time, we managed to see as much as we could, but really only saw a sliver of what it has to offer. There is definitely more to see for our next trip there.

Side Show was a superb production, and the show illustrated a history of intolerance to those whom are different. I'm glad that today people are more accepting of what we used to call "freaks." I'm so excited that this show is going to be a revival on Broadway soon. Who knows, maybe Milly and I could play the Hilton sisters someday in years to come - we look alike, and we're already sisters...!

Well that wraps it up for now. Thank you BroadwayWorld!

-Abigail Shapiro

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