FORT WORTH The 1997 musical Side Show, which had a short Broadway run but still maintains a cult following, is a sly selection for Casa Mananas Apprentice Program, in which teenagers in high school or the early years of college receive participate in a professional-level production.
With some tuneful, lively and occasionally gorgeous music (by Henry Krieger) and book and lyrics by Bill Russell, the show is based on the lives of the famous conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (Molly Franco and Chloe Voreis), who in the 1930s went from the sideshow circuit to a hit act on Vaudeville.
Surrounding them in the ensemble are other freaks, called exhibits in the program, from the bearded lady to the half man-half woman. But what this musical captures so brilliantly is the idea that the real oddballs are the ones who look normal on the outside. Theyre horrible human beings, such as the sideshow boss (a snarling Jack Bristol); or hucksters who are afraid of real emotion, such as Terry (Bryson Petersen), who saves the sisters from the side show for his own gain.
Caught in the crosshairs are lovable pushovers Buddy (Charlie Ray) and Jake (Rashaun Sibley), who both fall in love with Violet. Terry has feelings for Daisy, but is more concerned about the lack of privacy hed have, as showcased in the terrific song One Plus One Equals Three.
Directed by Tom Kosis and choreographed by Jeremy Dumont, the production has noticeable missed notes by the three male leads, who are in roles that require a little more vocal maturity. But each of them hits the right emotional marks.
The team of Franco and Voreis, on the other hand, are strong on the vocals and the emotion. Franco, who gets to play the jealous sister who can never keep her real feelings from the sister literally at her side, especially excels at conveying emotion without speaking. Turns out, theyre more human than the people who pay to see them think.
They both handle the dancing not easy when theyre joined at the hip and have to mirror each others moves admirably.
Its a tough show for a group of young professionals, who are still fresh from that world of high school where its all to easy to feel like an outcast. At least these talents can rest assured that they have a bright future ahead of them.