Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Side Show"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark


"Side Show"

Book & Lyrics by Bill Russell
Music by Henry Krieger
Directed & Choreographed by Maryann Swift
Musical Direction by Mario Cruz

Set Designed by Maryann Swift
Sound Design by Bob Pascucci
Lighting Design by Brian Pratt
Costume Coordination by Harriet Miller
Stage Manager John Murtagh

Daisy Hilton.........................Rebekah Turner
Violet Hilton.............................Sarah Turner
Terry Connor.............................Ben Discipio
Buddy Foster.........................Douglas Lethin
Jake.........................................Peter E. Allen
The Boss...................................Jerry Bolling
Sheik......................................David Browne
Fortune Teller.....................Jennifer Bubriski
6th Exhibit..................................Eileen Carr
Roustabout..................................Tom Coon
Roustabout.............................Mark Ferriero
Snake Lady..................................Julie Ganz
Bearded Lady......................Jeanne Hogman
Reptile Man.......................Michael Hogman
Harem Girl.............................Teresa Huang
Roustabout.............................Eric Lindblad
Harem Girl.........................Carolyn Najarian
Geek.......................................Bob Pascucci
Harem Girl...........................Jessica Hulman
Dolly Dimples..........................Phyllis Uloth
Fakir............................................Joe Walsh

Orchestra

Trumpets
Roy Groth, Jeff Hoeffler
Reeds
David Daquil, Karen Dickson, Louis Toth, Ray Toronto
Bass
Ed Krauss
Percussion
Kevin Burke
Keyboards
Connie Reisdorf, Mario Cruz

When I saw the Boston Conservatory production of "Side Show" last year I learned that the show's strength was its insistently rhythmic score, and its problem was a decidedly Undecided second act. The production Directed and Choreographed by Maryann Swift for the Arlington Friends of The Drama took Mario Cruz' rock-solid Musical Direction for granted, and solved the second-act problem by making it less a series of unsettled arguments, and more a human series of conflicts between aspiration and reality. In that sense, this community theater production is a much more satisfying experience.

Act One focuses on the rise of Daisy (Rebekah) and Violet (Sarah) Hilton, sisters joined at the hip, from freak-show attractions to vaudeville singers. The Turner Sisters who play the Hilton Sisters are alike only vocally. Sarah plays the private, shy Violet and Rebekah the eager, extroverted Daisy. This production concedes that these two are potential headliners. The argument-song "The Devil You Know" --- in which the "family" of fellow freaks discuss the dangers of life outside the nurturing warmth of the side show --- thus seems a bit academic here.

It's Buddy (Douglas Lethin) and Terry (Ben Discipio) who discover, coach, and promote the sisters; it's Jake (Peter E. Allen) --- the show's "Wild Man of Borneo" --- who helps them reach for a career as entertainers rather than freaks; and into Act Two these three men enter into a sort of five-sided triangle, each in love with a woman who can never be truly alone with anyone. The ambivalence of yearning for a normal, loving marriage under those circumstances is the matter of Act Two, where each of these men gets to shine. The title of one song "One Plus One Equals Three" says it all.

Lethin's Buddy actually marries his beloved Violet, though by then his love is cold, while Discipio's Terry wrestles with the fact that he will never really have a "Private Conversation" with Daisy. The protective and rejected Jake pours his love into the description of how "You Should Be Loved". Everything comes to a head in a ride through the "Tunnel of Love" during which Brian Pratt's lights isolate each of the four lovers as they sit side by side, together yet apart. All of these very human concatenations make Maryann Swift's production a triumph.

Love,
===Anon.


"Side Show" (till 16 April)
ARLINGTON FRIENDS OF THE DRAMA
22 Academy Street, ARLINGTON CENTER
1(781)646-5922

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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