Theatre UCF’s ‘Side Show’ offers freakish fun
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 15:10
Theatre UCF is bringing the magic and mystery of the big top to the main stage with its production of the musical Side Show.
This quickly paced musical is based on the true story of Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. The musical, written by Bill Russell and composed by Henry Krieger, is a tale of the Hilton sisters’ pursuit of fame, happiness and normalcy as they performed as a carnival attraction during the 1930s.
The production’s time on Broadway was short-lived. However, it was recognized with four Tony Award nominations in 1998, including best actress for Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley for their performances as the conjoined twins. Side Show presents some challenges with its unconventional characters and story completely told through song.
Catie Pires-Fernandes and Deirdre Manning take on these unique roles as Daisy and Violet in the Theatre UCF production. These characters posed an interesting challenge, both for the actresses and student choreographer Parker Slaybaugh. In rehearsal, Manning and Pires-Fernandes practiced being conjoined by bandaging themselves together.
“We were told that we were going to be tied together with the ACE bandage,” Pires-Fernandes said. “I think we were excited about it. I mean, it was deinitely a challenge, but it was a lot of fun at the same time.”
Each act displays wilder and more ornate costuming than the last. The talented sisters are the stars of the circus freak show, complete with a fortune teller, blood-drinking geek, bearded lady and reptile man. The Hilton sisters are discovered by aspiring musician Buddy Foster, played by musical theatre major John DeLisa.
“Buddy is a song and dance man, and I’ve been doing this for a while and I love song and dance,” DeLisa said. “I guess the most relatable trait would be his enthusiasm — he definitely rushes headlong into things, and I can certainly relate to that. Everyone thinks something is a good idea and get[s] in over their head. I’ve been there.”
Another challenge Side Show presents is that it’s a story told almost entirely with music. Vocal director Steven Chicurel said this is the first production of its kind for the program with minimal talking and a story told through only song.
“I think one of the biggest [challenges] has been — and it’s been an education for those of us on the faculty as well as the students — is the challenge of singing all the way through,” Chicurel said. “I think it moves very quickly. In a way, for musical theater-goers who don’t necessarily go to opera, maybe they won’t notice it’s sung all the way through because it’s still the storyline that’s coming through.”
An abundance of music and ensemble created the opportunity for more dance numbers, which range from classic kick lines to goofy vaudeville. In stepped student choreographer Slaybough. The senior musical theatre major volunteered to help following his choreography debut in last spring’s dance concert.
“There’s the twins’ choreography, which is very limited because they’re attached at the hip, but then you can play with mirror images. I got to come up with fun choreography regarding them. There’s a lot in the show. I think there is a lot more choreography in this than people have seen in the past productions, and I think the cast notices that, too.”
The Theatre UCF production of Side Show will debut Thursday at 8 p.m. on the main stage under the direction of Earl Weaver. Side Show will run from Thursday through Sunday and Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.