REGIONAL PREMIERE SHOWCASES SISTERLY BOND
The upcoming production of Gallery Players’ 69th season, Side Show, is a poignant and profound true story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who found fame in early 20th century American vaudeville circuits. A regional premiere, Side Show is the moving portrait of two women literally joined at the hip, whose extraordinary bond brought them fame but denied them love.
The show follows their progression from England to America, around the vaudeville circuit and ultimately to Hollywood on the eve of their appearance in the 1932 movie Freaks. Originally opening on Broadway in 1997, Side Show was nominated for four 1998 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score. With a completely reworked plot and new songs, the 2014 revival version delves deeper into the backstory of the Hilton twins. As the twins’ forge a relationship with Harry Houdini and face potential separation surgery, the book and lyrics by Bill Russell fleshes out characters and situations that endow Henry Krieger’s music with more sophistication and truth.
“It’s just a gorgeous show,” said Eryn Hollobaugh, who plays Violet Hilton, “It’s mysterious and beautiful, and meaningful.”
Hollobaugh sang the song from the finale, “I Will Never Leave You,” with her sister at a cabaret performance almost two years ago and became intrigued with the intense harmonies and the story of a sisterly bond.
“The bond between the two sisters is so emotional but it reminded me of the relationship I have with my sister,” Hollobaugh said, “It is beautiful how they want to stay together because having each other is enough to make them happy.”
The music is a mix of vaudeville and musical theater ballads, featuring a ‘show within a show’ as it tracks the sisters’ performances on the vaudeville stage as they rise to fame, with some aspects of the music reminiscent of circus music.
“The music is what got me hooked,” Hollobaugh said, “the harmonies are powerful and the songs just get stuck in your head.”
Hearing the finale sung on television by the original Broadway cast members years ago is what piqued Side Show Director Ross Shirley’s interest in the show as well.
“I’ve been a follower since the beginning,” Shirley said, “The music is so powerful and I knew it would be a really satisfying challenge to bring it to life on stage.”
Both Shirley and Hollobaugh note the importance of the show shining a light on what it means to be
“It’s important especially now because we are looking at people as ‘others.’ There is so much division in our country based on people’s backgrounds and where they come from,” Shirley said, “We have these stories that allow us to look at certain themes and issues and it impacts how we all embrace each other and live together in one world.”
Shirley notes that no matter what makes them different, the Hilton sisters want what everyone else wants.
“One of their songs, “Like Everyone Else,” really sums up the whole world of the show and sends a really strong message that people want the same things – to be treated with respect, love, and dignity,” Shirley said, “It’s a great message and a great vehicle for all of us to think about how we embrace others in our lives and in our world.”
Hollobaugh appreciates that the show’s emotional progression as the sisters come to terms with who they are.
“These girls want to be looked at as normal, they want to be like everyone else but they learn they ARE like everyone else. They want what everyone wants – to be successful, loved and happy.”
“We are really proud of the work and what we are accomplishing with the show,” Shirley said, “The cast is really committed and passionate about this story. The wonderfully talented and diverse group of cast and crew will bring the show to life in a really satisfying way.”
Side Show shines a spotlight on marginalized members of society, taking center stage in their own lives and dealing with mainstream emotions of love, success, suffering – and finally – acceptance.
As part of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, Side Show opens March 3 at 8 p.m. at the JCC in the Roth/Resler Theater and runs Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through March 18. For group ticket information, contact Nina Martin at email@example.com .
Gallery Players is proudly underwritten by the Lenore Schottenstein & Community Jewish Arts Fund of the Columbus Jewish Foundation.