Ready to know more about San Diego?


Review: Side Show

A worthy wonder to see at La Jolla Playhouse

By Erin Meanley

Review: Side Show

Review: Side Show

From left: Emily Padgett, Erin Davie and Matthew Hydzik. Photo: Kevin Berne

A musical can be harder to enjoy when you go into the theater not knowing the music. But Side Show, for all its freakishness, was accessible, had catchy tunes, and was easy to love.

The true story follows conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (1908-1969). Abandoned by their unwed mother, the sisters are forced to perform in a sideshow until their beautiful singing voices land them headlining gigs in vaudeville. Eventually, they make it to the big screen in Hollywood. But the exploitation they experience, and the alienation they constantly feel provides built-in conflict for the show. Such good drama! (For example, how could you marry someone who’s sister is always in the room with you and your wife?) Even the sisters’ friendship was complex but relatable and endearing and fun to watch.

The casting of the sisters was brilliant. Emily Padgett (Daisy Hilton) and Erin Davie (Violet Hilton) were impressively similar in size, voice, and face. They even had similar legs.

Side Show is a little Tim Burton-esque with all the sideshow freaks. Tim Burton’s not my thing, but I could appreciate the challenges (and solutions!) that went into costuming the armless woman, the lizard man, the three-legged dude, the albino woman…

Shout out to cast member Matthew Patrick Davis, one of our 50 People to Watch in 2013. You won’t recognize him as he wears a mask for most of the show, but he’s the 6’8″ guy with the misshapen head and black-and-white leggings. He also plays Doctor #3.

The male lead voices were the weakest link, although Matthew Hydzik (Buddy Foster) had a great voice. Book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Henry Krieger. While I enjoyed the score, and most of the lyrics, I thought some of the rhyming was forced. I did, however, walk out of the theater singing a few of the songs—always a good sign. My poor boyfriend had to listen to “I will never leave you!” all the way home. But he liked the show so much, he didn’t mind.

Side Show
La Jolla Playhouse
Directed by Bill Condon
Through December 15

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA