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Review Roundup: Re-Imagined SIDE SHOW at La Jolla Playhouse

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts produce, in association with La Jolla Playhouse, a re-imagining of Henry Krieger and Bill Russell's Side Show. Directed by Academy Award winning director Bill Condon, the musical will play at La Jolla Playhouse now through December 17 and will open at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater in spring 2014.

Based on the true story of conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton who became stars during the Depression, Side Show is a moving portrait of two women joined at the hip whose extraordinary bondage brings them fame but denies them love. The show's leading ladies - conjoined twins "Violet Hilton" and "Daisy Hilton" - will be played by Broadway favoritesErin Davie (Grey Gardens) and Emily Padgett (Rock of Ages) respectively; Manoel Felciano (Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd) as "Terry Connor"; Matthew Hydzik (Broadway revival of West Side Story) as "Buddy";David St. Louis (Broadway's Harlem Song) as "Jake."

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: Side Show demands to be seen. True, it is not a show for the squeamish, but it contains so much relevance to the daily workings of humanity. Who is normal, after all? And...everyone deserves love, and the manner in which Daisy and Violet treat one another is a great life lesson for one and all. Thanks to Russell, Krieger and Condon, the show has new songs that delve into the girls' interior feelings, and the entire show benefits to the max. Side Show is now a sturdier, more complete portrait of the Hilton twins, and still high on entertainment, maybe higher.

Bob Verini, Variety: Bill Condon has reworked "Side Show," the 1997 tuner succes d'estime - translation, floppo with cult status - into a handsome production that will follow its bow at the La Jolla Playhouse with a Kennedy Center run in the summer. Redux firms up the backstory of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton and provides a fitting showcase for one of the 1990s' greatly underappreciated scores. If the spectacle doesn't quite take flight, for reasons old and new, unquestionably it dazzles.

James Hebert, San Diego Union-Times: The show, in sum, could lose a little gloss and use a bit more grit - a feel for the sisters' struggles beyond their romantic troubles with the two showmen, Terry (Manoel Felciano) and Buddy (Matthew Hydzik), who take them from the seamy sideshow life to vaudeville fame. Still, Bill Russell's book and lyrics brim with gentle wit and humanity. And "Dreamgirls" composer Henry Krieger's tuneful "Side Show" music gives Davie (part of another very unusual duo in Broadway's "Grey Gardens") and Padgett ("Rock of Ages," "Legally Blonde") plenty of opportunity to double down on gorgeous harmonies.

Charles McNulty, LA Times: This retooled version doesn't solve all the musical's problems, but it capitalizes on the lurid showbiz milieu and it powerfully magnifies the heart of this more or less true tale of the Hilton sisters, "Siamese twins" who became a vaudeville sensation.

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