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Elden Street Players Open “Side Show”

>"Side Show,” the new Elden Street Players production which opens July 27, is an opera based on a true story about conjoined twin sisters Daisy and Violet Hilton who worked in the circus and in Vaudeville.

The Elden Street Players were attracted to this performance because it's not particularly well-known, said musical director Elisa Rosman, and it's "fun to do a show that’s new to most audiences."

"What people will find appealing is that it's about two people who are different, some would call them freaks, attempting to get out in the real world and leave the comfort of the so-called 'freak show'. It takes a lot of guts”, said executive producer Richard Klare. "Some folks who do this run the risk of failing and not having people around to support them, but the twins have each other."

It debuted on Broadway in 1997, and ran for 91 performances. The lyrics are by Bill Russell and the music is by Henry Krieger.

DIRECTOR LISA BAILEY, whose previous works include "Suburb" and "La Cage aux Folles," said she was attracted to the idea of staging this production because of the physical challenge involved. The actresses, who are of different heights, Katie McManus (Violet) and Jennifer Lambert (Daisy) are "conjoined" by simply standing very close to each other and wearing different heels.

"It's been a challenge, but not as much of a challenge as you might think," said Bailey. "You get used to it."

Bailey has directed musicals and operettas before, but not an opera.

Working on a production with almost no dialogue is also challenging, she said, but everyone involved has experience in both acting and singing, if not being inextricably connected at the hips to another human being.

In a play with dialogue, the play can go on more easily if an actor forgets his line, Rosman said. But in an opera, the performers have to sing the line in their heads and continue the song, because the vocal performances in the play often sounds like dialogue set to music.

A further challenge in terms of continuity involves the sets of the production, Rosman said. It's a one-piece set — there are no big scene changes, and the performance never stops, "except for applause. We're hoping there's applause. It's good to be optimistic."

“The fact that these people, some of whom didn't even know each other before, are coming together to work as a team in such a short amount of time is remarkable,” said Klare.

- By Nate Waggoner