This must be the year of the freaks– Elephant Man, American Horror Story: Freak Show, Alice Hoffman’s book The Museum of Extraordinary Things and Side Show. The original Side Show was supposedly grittier and darker which may be why it couldn’t find an audience. In this revamped revival the strange, but true, love story takes center stage. I mean who can’t resist a love story about Siamese twins?
Most of the show is sung and the score is well-written and emotional. It begins at a Texas carnival side show where Siamese twins, Daisy and Violet, reign supreme. “Come Look at the Freaks” introduces us to the human oddities hired to enthrall and repulse. Unfortunately, as entertaining as this is, the side show is put off to the side to make room for the love story. It happens when Terry and Buddy, two promoters, come see the show and recruit the twins to star in their show on the vaudeville circuit. They promise stardom and love. But when the twins sing “Who Will Love Me As I Am” at the end of the first act, you get the sense of foreboding and feel the sisters’ deep emotional pain.
The first act was great. I felt the second act, which focuses on the flirtation between Terry, Buddy and the twins, was weaker and I lost interest. I perked up during the beautiful ballad, “You Should Be Loved”, sung by Jake (David St. Louis) – the self-acclaimed protector of the girls and who happens to be in love with one of them. What a voice! Side Show has had a lot of pre-opening buzz especially coming off its successful run in Washington DC. Perhaps, I set my expectations too high – based on the great advertising campaign and the rousing first song. I wanted to love this show but it couldn’t sustain my interest through nearly two and a half hours. LAR
St James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street
Ticket price: $49-$145
Discounts: Broadwaybox.com ($57-$89 good thru 12/21/14) Code: SSBBX1015
Runs thru: tickets currently available until 4/26/15
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, one intermission