Adam Hetrick interviews Bill Russell: Reimagined Production of Side Show Continues to Take Shape; Bill Russell Chats About the Musical’s Next Steps.
Bringing life, humanity to ‘freaks;’
Oscar-winner Dave Elsey explains complex effects of Playhouse’s ‘Side Show’
Matthew Patrick Davis plays the Geek in La Jolla Playhouse’s “Side Show,” with assistance from special makeup effects and prosthetics by Dave and Lou Elsey.
By Jim Hebert
November 22, 2013
Hollywood is not exactly foreign territory for La Jolla Playhouse: The theater was co-founded by no less a movie luminary than Gregory Peck. But it’s safe to say the current production of “Side Show” is the first time two Oscar-winners have worked on the same Playhouse musical. One of those artists is the show’s director, Bill Condon, who won an Academy Award in 1999 for scripting “Gods and Monsters” (and was nominated in 2003 for the screenplay to “Chicago”).
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Also available on amazon.com
Yellow Sound Label (Michael Croiter) announces the release of the Original Cast Album for The Last Smoker in America today, June 25, 2013. The album, produced and engineered by Joel Moss and distributed by Yellow Sound Label, will be available on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere where music is sold. For additional information, visit www.YellowSoundLabel.com.
The Last Smoker in America, with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Peter Melnick, opened Off-Broadway at The Westside Theatre on August 2, 2012. The production was directed by Andy Sandberg, with choreography by AC Ciulla and music supervision and arrangements by Fred Lassen. The four-member cast featured Farah Alvin, Natalie Venetia Belcon, John Bolton, and Jake Boyd.
The Last Smoker in America delivers explosive satire and smoking wit, along with a thrilling rock score that leaves you craving for more. In a world where smoking has recently been outlawed and the penalties are growing stricter by the minute, Pam is having an impossible time trying to quit. Her husband Ernie dreams of being a rock star and relentlessly practices his guitar in the basement, while their videogame-addicted son Jimmy listens to so much rap music he thinks he's black. As if Pam isn't pushed to The Edge of reason already, her nosy, anti-smoking zealot neighbor Phyllis is on a mission to catch transgressors mid-puff. Will Pam kick the habit or fight for her right to light up?
The New York Times declared the "pop-rock score is terrific, with multiple catchy melodies that will stick in your head like peanut butter."
Licensing for The Last Smoker in America is now available through Samuel French Inc. To apply for performance rights, please visit www.SamuelFrench.com, or contact Samuel French by phone at (866) 598-8449 or by email at OutReach@SamuelFrench.com.
For additional information about The Last Smoker in America, or the recent Off-Broadway production, please visit www.LastSmoker.com.
Director/Producer Andy Sandberg had this to say, "I am incredibly proud of this production and all of the extraordinarily talented artists who gave their time and talent to this show." He went on to add, "With licensing now available through Samuel French and the release of this awesome cast album, we are more excited than ever for the future life of The Last Smoker in America."
Erin Davie and Emily Padgett Will Star in Re-Imagined Side Show at La Jolla and Kennedy Center
By Adam Hetrick
August 2, 2013
Photo by Dirty Sugar
Erin Davie and Emily Padgett will co-star as conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton in the La Jolla Playhouse-Kennedy Center production of Side Show, the Tony Award-nominated musical by Henry Kriegerand Bill Russell, which will return to the stage in a new incarnation directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon this fall.
Condon ("Dreamgirls") has given new dramatic shape to the dark, pop-driven musical that has a score by Krieger (Dreamgirls) and Russell (Elegies for Angels…), who also wrote the book, and contains numerous stand-out songs, including "Who Will Love Me As I Am?"
A source close to the production told Playbill.com that the creative team is hopeful for a Broadway run following Side Show's engagements at the La Jolla Playhouse (The Kennedy Center( ).) and
Davie (Grey Gardens, A Little Night Music) and Padgett (Rock of Ages, Flashdance) will co-star as Violet and Daisy, respectively, in a cast that will also feature Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd, Cabaret) as Terry Connor, Matthew Hydzik (West Side Story, Grease) as Buddy and David St. Louis (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Scarlet Pimpernel) as Jake.
The cast will also boast 2013 Tony Award nominee Keala Settle (Hands on a Hardbody) as the Fortune Teller, with Brandon Bieber (Follies) as Freak, Lauren Elder (Hair) as a member of the ensemble, Javier Ignacio (Forever Plaid) as Houdini, Robert Joy ("CSI: NY") as Sir, Kelvin Moon Loh (Here Lies Love) as Freak, Zonya Love (The Color Purple) as Hottentot, Barrett Martin(Nice Work if You Can Get It) as Ray/Freak, Don Richard (Wicked) as Martin Arnold/Freak, Blair Ross (Jekyll and Hyde) as Bearded Lady/Auntie, Matthew Patrick Davis (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Freak, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper as Freak/Dr. Weldon, Hannah Shankman (Hair) as a member of the ensemble, as well as David Kirk Grant and Michelle London (Wicked) as swings.
The creative team features choreographer Anthony Van Laast, scenic designer David Rockwell, costume designer Paul Tazewell, lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer and sound designer Kai Harada.
"Bill Condon is coming to the Playhouse to develop and stage a re-imagined script and score for Side Show with this hugely talented cast and creative team. We can't wait to work with them as they breathe bewitching new life into this favorite of the American Musical Theatre," La Jolla artistic directorChristopher Ashley said in a statement.
Among the new characters revealed for this production of Side Show are Harry Houdini; Texas lawyer Martin Arnold; Loretta, a Hedda Hopper-like gossip columnist; as well as the characters of Auntie and Sir, based on the twins' real life caretakers Mary Hilton and her husband, who helped birth the U.K.-born twins and originally exploited them for monetary gain.
"Henry and I are thrilled to be doing more work with Bill Condon on this piece," book writer and lyricist Russell previously told Playbill.com. "We've already done quite a bit of rethinking, re-examining and revising of it together and his brilliance and passion for the show are inspiring. Long-time fans of the original should not be alarmed. Though we're excited by this opportunity to take another look at the material, the essence of the show is still intact."
Krieger and Russell's score propels the mostly sung-through musical that traces the lives of the Hilton twins from their rough upbringing in a traveling freak show, to their turn as celebrated Vaudeville stars, who were never able to live a life apart from the curious eyes of the public. A cast album preserves many of the songs from the production, but large sections of Krieger and Russell's recitative that link the action were unrecorded.
Side Show debuted on Broadway Sept. 19, 1997, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Though its Broadway run was brief, at only 91 performances, Side Show has garnered a legion of fans. Robert Longbottom directed the original production that starred Tony nomineeEmily Skinner and Tony Award winner Alice Ripley as Daisy and Violet Hilton, respectively. The actresses shared a Tony Award nomination for their work. The original cast also included Norm Lewis, Hugh Panaro and Jeff McCarthy.
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Emily Padgett & Erin Davie to Play Daisy and Violet Hilton in La Jolla Playhouse and Kennedy Center's SIDE SHOW- Full Cast Announced!
August 2, 2013
La Jolla Playhouse, in association with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has announced casting for its re-imagining ofHenry Krieger (music) and Bill Russell's (book and lyrics) Side Show, produced in association with the Kennedy Center. Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Bill Condon and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, the production will run in The Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre and will run in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater . Tickets for The Playhouse run go on sale and are available atLaJollaPlayhouse.org or by calling Patron Services at (858) 550-1010.
"Bill Condon is coming to The Playhouse to develop and stage a re-imagined script and score for Side Show with this hugely talented cast and creative team. We can't wait to work with them as they breathe bewitching new life into this favorite of the American Musical Theatre," said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.
The show's leading ladies – conjoined twins "Violet Hilton" and "Daisy Hilton" – will be played by Broadway favorites Erin Davie (Grey Gardens) and Emily Padgett (Rock of Ages) respectively; Manoel Felciano (Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd) as "Terry Connor"; Matthew Hydzik(Broadway revival of West Side Story) as "Buddy"; David St. Louis (Broadway's Harlem Song) as "Jake."
The company also boasts the talents of Brandon Bieber (Broadway's Follies) as "Freak," Lauren Elder (Broadway revival of Hair) as a member of the ensemble,Javier Ignacio (Forever Plaid) as "Houdini," Robert Joy (Dr. Sid Hammerback on CSI: NY) as "Sir," Kelvin Moon Loh (off-Broadway's Here Lies Love) as "Freak,"Zonya Love
(Broadway's The Color Purple) as "Hottentot," Barrett Martin (Broadway's Nice Work if You Can Get It) as "Ray/Freak," Don Richard (Wicked national tour) as "Martin Arnold/Freak" and Blair Ross (Broadway's Jekyll and Hyde) as "Bearded Lady/Auntie."
Additionally, several local actors will join the cast, including Matthew Patrick Davis (Playhouse's A Midsummer Night's Dream) as "Freak,"Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper as "Freak/Dr. Weldon," Hannah Shankman as a member of the ensemble, as well as and David Kirk Grant andMichelle London as swings.
The creative team features David Rockwell (2011 and 2010 Academy Awards; Broadway's Kinky Boots), scenic design; Paul Tazewell(Sideways, His Girl Friday, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), costume design; Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (2013 Tony Award winners for Broadway's Lucky Guy), lighting design and Kai Harada (Broadway's Million Dollar Quartet), sound design.