Sight, sound | More than a freak show

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A heartwarming tale with an epic playlist from the same composer behind Dreamgirls, Side Show is a musical based on the true-to-life story of conjoined twins with big talents and simple dreams.

Presented by Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group, Side Show runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 23 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City.

A musical about acceptance, love, and embracing our own idiosyncrasies, Side Show revolves around  Violet and Daisy Hilton, who became famous entertainers in 1930s. Played respectively by Gab Pangilinan and Kayla Rivera, Daisy and Violet started out as the starring acts of a sideshow at the Orpheum Circuit helmed by the menacing ringmaster, Sir, played by Wency Cornejo.

Gab Pangilinan and Kayla Rivera play conjoined twins in Side Show.

It seems that the twins have everything they want but the satisfaction of their hearts’ desires: Violet yearns for a normal life, a husband, and a home; Daisy wants popularity. And when an offer to be vaudeville stars landed on the twins’ laps, the two are excited to accept the offer, which comes with what they want: fame, fortune, and a possible romance with Terry (Markki Stroem), a talent scout, and Buddy (David Ezra), a budding musician.

With music written by Henry Krieger, Side Show features soulful tunes with beautiful lyrics like “Come Look at the Freaks,” “Like Everyone Else,” and “I Will Never Leave You.” Although desiring different things in life, Daisy and Violet share the same questions in their popular duet, “Who Will Love Me as I Am?” with lyrics that go: “Like an odd exotic creature on display inside a zoo, hearing children asking questions makes me ask some questions, too. Who could see beyond this surface? Who will love me as I am?”

Side Show is more than just a story about ‘freaks’ or one that celebrates uniqueness,” director Steven Conde told High Life. “It is a story about connections that prove stronger than any physical bond. It is about the importance of family and relationships. It shows us how our most valued relationships can outweigh wealth, fame, and even romance,” he said.

Side Show is Mr. Conde’s directorial debut for the Atlantis group, where he heads the workshop division. Previous directing credits include Wit, My Name is Asher Lev, Suicide Incorporated, and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.

He added: “Side Show is the perfect example of a musical that can change lives. I am more than excited to direct this gem of a musical and share it with audiences, especially those who might feel weighed down by their own peculiarities.”

Joining the cast are Arman Ferrer as Jake; Christine Flores as the Bearded Lady; Chesko Rodriguez as the Three-legged Man; Alex Reyes as the Tattooed Girl; Luis Marcelo as the Geek; Juancho Escoto as the Lizard Man; Vien King as Half Man, Half Woman; Juancho Escoto as Lizard Man; Timmy Pavino as Dog Boy; Jill Peña as Venus the Milo, Mica Fajardo as Albino Lady; and Ring Antonio as the Fortune Teller.

Side Show, despite its positive reviews, had short Broadway runs in 1998 and in 2014, when it was revived. It received four nominations at the Tony Awards in 1998, including one for Best Musical. “It continues to be one of the most produced musicals globally. Add to that, the musical’s show-stopping music and powerful message of celebrating our uniqueness, it was only a matter of time before we brought Side Show to Manila,” said Bobby Garcia, Atlantis Theatrical’s producing-director.

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Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman