Presented by Hills Musical Company
Reviewed 20 April 2018
With a book written by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger this musical was first produced in 1997, but I had never seen or even heard of it before. Based on the true story of conjoined twins who were the toast of Vaudeville, the story had a lot of heart and is full of unusual leads, many of who are based on people who were called freaks
In fact, the opening number, Come Look at All the Freaks, introduces many of the sideshow characters to us. In the role of Sir, the showman in charge, Scot Nell commands the stage and does very well at being unlikable. His star attraction, the Hilton twins are played by Rebecca Raymond (Violet) and Fiona DeLaine (Daisy) and they are a star attraction; their voices blend beautifully and they maintain the illusion of being ‘joined’ very well. They convey an obvious understanding of the complexity of their roles. Their duets Who Will Love Me As I Am and I Will Never Leave You are highlights.
The entrepreneur who takes the girls from the Side Show to the stage, Terry, is portrayed by Paul Rodda, at his best. He along with Jared Frost as Buddy and Ray Cullen as Ray (and Houdini) provide great support for the girls as well as their love interests. Omkar Nagesh plays Jake, initially one of the freaks but charged by Sir with watching over and caring for the girls. Nagesh is sensitive and strong, delivering a well-balanced performance.
Well-played cameos abound, Wendy Rayner as the Bearded Lady, Alana Shepherdson as the Venus Di Milo, Jared Gerschwitz as the Lizard Man and many more. The ensemble did some great work and kudos to Choreographer Kerry Hauber in putting some interesting movement into a difficult show. As always musical Director Mark DeLaine had them all sounding good and his band did him credit.
The set by set designer David Lampard definitely looked the part but required many fussy changes which became distracting and seemed at times to hamper movement. Mention should be made of the fine freak work done by Vanessa Shirley who was responsible for special effects makeup. The costumes were also great and the twins looked fabulous thanks to Marie Dineen and Mark DeLaine.
This is a good show, well worth a trip up the hill to the Stirling Theatre to see it. When it settles in it will no doubt be even better!
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre
Season: Until 5 May 2018
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $25 – $32
Bookings: Tickets available on line at http://hillsmusical.org.au/tickets/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0466 118 153.