BWW REVIEW: SIDE SHOW Opens Theatre Season at Oklahoma City University's Wanda L. Bass School of Music
Jess here. I just attended Oklahoma City University's season opener: "Side Show." Written by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, this story, featuring the historical Hilton twins of the 1920s-30's, gives two (or in this case, four) crazy-good sangin' women the chance to belt some amazing music for two and a half hours, all the while surrounded by a very charismatic ensemble of "freaks."
Originally premiering on Broadway in 1997, and revived in 2014, "Side Show" relays the true story of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton. The musical follows their vicarious ascension from freak show headliners, to Vaudeville, to ultimately, Hollywood. They're picked up by Terry Connor, a talent agent, and Buddy Foster, a choreographer and performer. Together, they navigate through many of life's difficulties; ranging from finding romance as conjoined twins, to battling with their individual differences regarding self-acceptance and their desire to change. They also struggle with having to leave their family of "freaks" behind in order to pursue a bigger dream and a better life.
Daisy Hilton (Celina James/ Madeline Powell) and Violet Hilton (Claire Greenburg/ Emily Holguin) blended incredibly well together, in both chemistry and vocal style. The fact that both of the sibling pairings were able to portray such honestly believable sisters is a feat to be admired, especially due to the complexity of the twin's multi-layered relationship. The vocal blend of the women was out of this world, and honestly, I'm still in awe of how they managed to mix perfectly throughout the entire show.
Playing opposite the ladies were Buddy Foster (Collin O'Neill/ Cole Cloutier) and Terry Connor (Ian Marcontell/ Tom Hoblin). O'Neill and Cloutier did a fantastic job, vocally as well as theatrically, as they played their characters with a genuine love for the twins. Marcontell and Hoblin offered a stark contrast to the good-hearted Buddy Fosters, and their booming voices did not disappoint.
Jake, the twin's bodyguard (Jordan Andrews/Marcus Canada), was a personal favorite. His character, offering a level of complexity I've never seen before, was beautifully executed by the two men. The vocal strength presented by the actors was very impressive, especially in a role with such demanding musical requirements.
Sir (Teddy Edgar) was the comic relief we all needed. Despite the occasional dramatics his character presented, Edgar did a great job of keeping the vibe of the show alive and bouncing.
No side show is complete without a riveting cast of "freaks." The ensemble in this production played a vital part in creating a community for the audience to admire. The truthfulness they had in themselves deserves recognition, as does their versatility as performers.
The ensemble included the following actors:
Human Pin Cushion/Doctor 2: Jonah White
Doctor 4/Sir's Lawyer: Nick Atkins
Geek: Adam White
Fortune Teller: Cheyanne Osoria
Tattoo Girl: Madison Riggin
Venus de Milo: Kenzie McIntyre
Dog Boy: Chris Heron
Houdini/3-Legged Man: Jeffrey Laughrun
Little Female: Jordan Wilkes
Half Man Half Woman: Matthew Reindl
Ray/Little Male: Gavin Guthrie
Lizard Man: Connor McLaury
Bearded Lady: Megan Rooney
Auntie/New Year's Eve Guest 3: Rachel Nicholes
Doctor 1/Todd Browning: Chance Ingalls
Doctor 3/New Year's Eve Guest 1: Kylan L. Durant
Ladies Dance Ensemble: Cami Benton (New Year's Eve Guest 2), Anna Lasbury, Kenzie McIntyre, Jordan Wilkes
Mens Dance Ensemble: Kylan L. Durant, Gavin Guthrie, Chance Ingalls, Jonah White
The lighting (Aaron Mooney), set (Jason Foreman), and costumes (Rachel Barnett) all worked together very well. The costumes were out of this world, and the fact that they had to alter the twins' dresses in order to bring two into one blows my mind. The lights were high intensity, living a lot in the red and green hues. The set was functional and effective, and the use of a puppeting screen was incredibly interesting.
"Side Show" was the perfect season opener for the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. This production gave so many students a chance to shine, and dive into roles that performers don't generally have the opportunity to portray. I look forward to the opening of "Little Women" (runs November 2-4) and am very excited for another year of music on campus!
"There are heroes in the world. Princes and heroes in the world.
And one of them will save us. Wait and see. Wait and see." -Stephen Sondheim