Side Show (Kennedy Center) OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Drew Angerer




  • AP

Opening Night:
June 14, 2014
July 13, 2014

Theater: The Kennedy Center / 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC, 20566


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.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Side Show (Kennedy Center)

    A Grandeur That Eclipses the Grotesque
    ‘Side Show’ in a New Production at the Kennedy Center

    Charles Isherwood

    June 20, 2014: The fellow with a third leg really appears to have that extra appendage, the lizard man sports scary scales, and the hermaphrodite seems to be split down the middle in the new production of Side Show at the Kennedy Center here. As they lumber, slither or caper forth in the opening number of this 1997 musical, creating a macabre pageant of human oddity, it becomes clear that what we will be seeing is less a revival than a full-scale reimagining of this show, which drew mixed reviews and closed after a few months on Broadway in its first incarnation, while quickly acquiring a cult following among, er, musical-theater freaks. High anticipation among those who harbor deep affection for this ambitious show, about the real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, will probably soon give way to raging debates about the many changes made to it. These include the addition and subtraction of several songs by Henry Krieger (music) and Bill Russell (lyrics), the reordering of others, and wholly new passages in the book by Mr. Russell, with additional material by Bill Condon, the production’s director.

  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Side Show (Kennedy Center)

    D.C. Theater Review: ‘Side Show’ Directed by Bill Condon

    Paul Harris

    June 20, 2014: Remembered for its unconventional theme, its inviting score, its polarizing effect on audiences and its brief, 91-perf run on Broadway in 1997, the cult-favorite flop Side Show now emerges as a thoroughly engaging musical — chock full of satisfying moments and, just as importantly, stripped of the elements that have limited the appeal of this offbeat saga about vaudeville’s conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Credit the dogged determination and creativity of the team that has extensively revised the original — author/lyricist Bill Russell, composer Henry Krieger and screenwriter/director Bill Condon — in a staging that had its initial run at the La Jolla Playhouse last year and now, with further tinkering done in the interim, has opened at the Kennedy Center in D.C.

  • WASHINGTON POST REVIEW OF Side Show (Kennedy Center)

    At Kennedy Center, ‘Side Show’ takes another turn around the midway

    Peter Marks

    June 20, 2014: It was always a stunning way to start. “Come look at the freaks!” sang the assorted actors in the short-lived Broadway production of Side Show as they introduced themselves to us: human oddities in a grotesque carnival, beckoning us to venture into a forbidding world, to “come see God’s mistakes.” In the extensively rewritten version of the musical at the Kennedy Center, re-engineered under the guidance of director Bill Condon, this song remains pretty much the same. It’s the “freaks” who’ve been radically reconceived. On Broadway, the singers were exotic only in the mind’s eye. Now, in the incarnation starting preview performances Saturday, they’ve been cast and elaborately costumed to resemble the “attractions” they describe: the human pincushion, the pygmies, the lizard man, the living Venus, the dog boy, the geek.

  • DC THEATRE SCENE REVIEW OF Side Show (Kennedy Center)

    Side Show. Prepare to be amazed by the freaks

    Jayne Blanchard

    June 20, 2014: Side Show lets its freak flag fly with a glorious production that combines astounding visual artistry, a ripping yarn and a tingly emotional score, stirringly sung by the company, which is as heart-stopping as a high-flying aerialist act. Step right up and prepare to be amazed by the two actors playing the real-life Daisy (Emily Padgett) and Violet (Erin Davie) Hilton, conjoined twins who rose from a shoddy carnival attraction to vaudeville stars in Depression-era America. You may be acquainted with the Hilton sisters already from Tod Browning’s perverse 1932 horror classic Freaks, as well as the bevy of side show performers who surround the young women and form a close-knit family of outsiders.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW OF Side Show (Kennedy Center)


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