Updated: March 13, 2017
Winter musical Side Show ends March 19
“Come look at the freaks!” barks the ringmaster at the top of the opening act of Side Show, the winter production from Foothill Music Theatre (FMT). Set in the vaudeville circuit in late 1920’s, Side Show was created by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. During its original 1997 Broadway run, the production earned four Tony Award nominations. In 2014 Hollywood director Bill Condon, who also wrote the screenplay for Chicago and directed Dreamgirls, helped heavily revise the musical, including adding new music with a plan to adapt the musical for the big screen. That never came to pass but another Broadway run in 2014 did. This is the production currently onstage at Foothill.
The show is about two conjoined sisters named Daisy and Violet, stars of the sideshow that includes fantastic figures like a bearded lady, a cannibal king, a fortune-teller, a three-legged man and more. Persuaded by a pair of handsome men with connections to the “bigtime” Orpheum circuit, the sisters set out on a personal journey to discover who they are, the cost of success, and if they could ever live a life like everyone else.
This production was selected by director Milissa Carey because of the intimate nature of both the story and the Lohman Theatre which is conducive to this kind of storytelling. She says, “The show examines being an outsider, feeling different and the journey towards self-acceptance. Another theme of the show, also relevant to today, is that society can worship celebrity and then discard them at the drop of a hat.” In such close spaces, the audience is connected with the twins throughout their rise to fame, that despite the many stirring numbers is laced with a rejection, and ultimately redemption. “The rousing first act closing song deserves to be experienced, as can only happen in live theatre,” said Carey.
It’s a spectacular show with a large, multi-tiered set designed by Lynn Grant and a large cast of talented actors led by Jessica LaFever and Lauren Meyer as Daisy and Violet who deliver fully fleshed out characters with one power ballad after another. Incidentally, the actresses had the challenge of literally being joined at the hip and had to learn to walk all over again as a pair. This included walking up and down stairs, a perilous feat accomplished with absolute grace! The audience falls entranced with them and roots for their happiness, and in the end, we realize they were never freaks at all. Carey added, “Theatre, like all art, helps us see our common humanity and that we are all more alike than different.”
Foothill College would like to thank the Foothill Commission for its generosity and support in hosting a special fundraiser benefiting the FMT production of Side Show on March 16. You can help support the program by attending the exciting Gala performance, which will feature many exclusives as well as a wine and hors d’oevres reception. Part of your ticket price is tax-deductible and proceeds will benefit FMT. Tickets for the special performance are available through the Foothill - De Anza Foundation website.
Side Show’s limited engagement runs through Sunday, March 19 in the Lohman Theater. All other tickets are available at foothill.edu/theatre.
Auditions for the next FMT production, SHREK THE MUSICAL are Monday, March 20 from 6-9 p.m. or Tuesday, March 21 from 6-9 p.m. Visit the Theatre Arts Department website for more information.
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