DC at Night

DC at Night

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Side Show: Grandeur from the Grotesque


When I was young, only one film truly terrorized me. That was Tod Browning's shocking cult classic
Freaks. The ending scenes of the pinheads and the armless and legless creatures slithering and scurrying for revenge left an indelible imprint on my memory. It was (and still is) the perfect stuff of nightmares.

I never imagined that 50 years later, that film would provide an opening and closing bookend to the fantastic re-imagined musical Side Show, now playing until July 13 at the Eisenhower Theater in the Kennedy Center. Browning even appears on the stage as a character.

Actually, Side Show is focused on co-joined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (portrayed brilliantly by Emily Padgett and Erin Davie) and chronicles their rise from freak circus attractions to famous vaudeville entertainers during the Great Depression. The emotionally rich musical follows the twins search for normalcy and love amidst the spectacle of the scrutiny of the spotlight.

Playbill calls Side Show "the must-see event of the DC summer season." And I agree. But don't just tale my word for it. Here is what the critics are saying:
  • "a searing, soaring musical is reborn ... the boldest and most splendidly realized production at the  Kennedy Center since Sondheim Celebration in 2002".  (from The Washington Post)
  • "a grandeur that eclipses the grotesque." (from The New York Times)
  • "simply spectacular" (from Broadway World. com)
During the engaging production (this is a musical which will cause you to think), much is made of all types of connections. The best advice I can give you is connect yourself as quickly as you can to tickets for Side Show. As the title of the opening and closing number you really should "Come Look at the Freaks."

Extra! Extra! Read All About It
Even More about Freaks. Read It If You Dare.


How Freaks out-horrored Frankenstein and all that came later. (from The Judgmental Observer)

"Offend one and you offend them all." (from Horror Film History)

It's still difficult to watch Tod Browning's 80-year-old movie. (from The Guardian)

Sarah Paulson tweets her "Freak Show" American Horror Story role.(from Science Fiction.com)

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