Side Show has theatergoers seeing doubleThe Northland premiere of the Tony-nominated, Broadway musical “Side Show,” a story of conjoined twins, is Thursday at the Harbor City International Theater.
The Northland premiere of the Tony-nominated, Broadway musical “Side Show,” a story of conjoined twins, is Thursday at the Harbor City International Theater.
The show roughly follows the true story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, sisters fused at the hip, who became famous during the Great Depression. The two women gained fame while progressing from a freak show to the vaudeville circuit and then to Hollywood, appearing in the 1932 movie “Freaks.”
Side Show uses the word “freak” to show how “hurtful it is, director
Sheryl Jensen told the
“The play is very uplifting — it shows the ways in which these two women move on through life, supporting the other, and living their lives with as much dignity and honor as they could,” Jensen said. “The idea that some people regard others as different for whatever reason is at the core of the show.”
Then there’s the music that carries that story along.
“(It) sounds as if it comes from a turn-of-the century circus, vaudeville, Busby Berkeley, and Ziegfeld Follies,” explained Ken Ahlberg, the show’s vocal director and orchestra conductor. “The storyline allows an incredibly wide variety of musical styles to be incorporated into the show without it feeling like a gimmick.”
Side Show stars Gracie Anderson, a University of Minnesota Duluth senior musical theater major, and Bree Taylor, the Hermantown Middle School vocal director, as Daisy and Violet Hilton.
“Learning about Daisy and Violet Hilton helped me to understand the challenges that they had to overcome,” said Taylor, who plays Violet. “Gracie and I spent a lot of time practicing moving as one. Logistics of walking, sitting, and dancing took a lot of practice, but have really come together.”
Ahlberg added: “There are also some of the most beautiful duets for two women written in all of the musical theatre music. It is a rare thing to find duets between two women in most shows, but this show is filled with them.”
The 24-member cast is comprised of area performers. Nate St. Germain plays Terry and Peter Froehlingsdorf has the role of Buddy. Mike Pederson is playing the Boss while Gabriel Green has the role of Jake.
“I have been so impressed with the way these actors have gotten past being concerned with ‘Do I sound good?’ and are asking instead ‘Do I sound right?’” Ahlberg said. “I believe we are fortunate to have the very best talent in the Northland.”
Taylor said she’s worked with Jensen twice before and jumped at the chance to do so on this show.
“I have loved the music from Side Show since the ’90s and always wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “This was the perfect combination for me.”
The audience will be absorbed in the world of the midway upon first entering the Harbor City lobby through sights, smells, and sounds of a
“We will have life-size freak show posters with our cast members in their freak show guises represented,” Jensen said. “Audiences will enter a world of fortune tellers, palm readers, belly dancers, a bed of nails, games, and many other kinds of carnival magic from the time they enter the lobby doors at Harbor City.”
Performances run Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2. The doors open 90 minutes before show time, with a “Side Show” emporium of jewelry, hats, flowers, and accessories, and a special menu of food and beverages from Black Woods Catering.
If You Go
Where: Harbor City International Theater,
332 West Michigan Street in Duluth, MN
When: July 12-29
Tickets: $25. Call 218-727-1177 or