Twinstars And The Big Top: A Review Of 'Side Show'
I’m putting this on the record; while Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group’s production of Side Show is wonderful, entertaining, and an aural delight, I won’t be surprised if it goes down as the show people will refer to as the one that made musical stars of Gab Pangilinan and Kayla Rivera. As the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, the two are absolute charmers, and firmly establish their arrival as legitimate lead stars of the local theater scene.
Their singing, their acting, their establishing distinct personalities even if conjoined at the hip, is a sheer delight to watch; and shouldn’t be missed. Running at the CPR Theatre, RCBC until September 23, I would encourage you to catch this exuberant pairing. The male leads, Markki Stroem, David Ezra and Arman Ferrer are great as well, but this is really more a showcase for the two young girls, and they make the most of it.
With Book and Lyrics by Bill Russell, Music by Henry Kreiger, and directed here in a Manila by Steven Conde, Side Show actually enjoyed 4 Tony nominations when it was staged on Broadway. It follows the lives of real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton who hailed from England, and were circus performers in the United States in the 1930s. Moving on to vaudeville and even the movies, the musical comedy is an honest depiction of how despite their charm, talent and intelligence, the two could never escape that fact that they were ‘freaks’, oddities of nature.
If I have to choose one personal highlight, it would be as Act II opens and the song "Leave Me Alone" suddenly transitions back to "Stuck With You" — that moment is sheer stage magic, and I loved how the two girls pulled this off. Their choreography, their having to be constantly attached to each other, are all part of the charm of the stage adaptation. The costumes, prosthetics and make-up that are used to create the other freaks of the circus are all a joy to behold.
In fact, just a sidebar comment, but I found this grittier presentation of circus life so much more enjoyable than the whitewashed Hugh Jackman film Greatest Showman. Don’t get me wrong, Jackman was great, but as a P.T. Barnum biopic, I though it was executed like Barnum’s PR agent’s wet dream. Portraying him as some ennobled crusader and not just the marketing genius/huckster he was I found disappointing. Scorsese in Wolf of Wall Street at least implied yes, this person is riveting, fascinating to watch, but he’s no hero.
But do watch Side Show as both Gab and Kayla are fantastic—this show should open doors for the two, and it’ll be great to say you were there at the show where it all truly began.
Lead images from @ATEGAsia on Facebook