Side Show and Joe Allen

Set in the 1930s and based on the Hilton sisters, Daisy and Violet, conjoined twins, Side Show opened and tanked after a matter of weeks, just as it did in 1997 when this full-blown musical premiered. Side Show is teeming with powerful love songs, however it is doomed by its subject: the darkness of the lives of side-show performers. A corny subplot involves a forbidden love interest. Jake, a black man, appears in the circus as the “cannibal” and is their one true friend. David St. Louis is absolutely gorgeous when he sings of his love for Violet. He's sure to get a Tony nod in spite of the show's closing within minutes.

Erin Davie as Violet and Emily Padgett as Daisy are marvelous and deserve Tony noms too. Violet and Daisy are discovered by a vaudeville producer who helps them create a name for themselves on the stage. Additional love interests are the producer and dance captain. Robert Joy is evil Sir, the Joel Grey-ish sideshow manager with fancy manners. We embrace his demotion to coffee boy for MGM when the sisters go on to appear in a movie. The lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer was dramatic and memorable.

The story has great heart and it’s engrossing in spite of a slow pace. Side Show has reportedly been successful in regional theater. The creation of Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music), you have to give them credit for taking “difference” as a theme and running with it. 

Joe Allen descends the stairs and has breakfast while reading the drama criticism in all of the newspapers every morning. He has a soft spot in his heart for the plays that close on Broadway. His star-studded restaurant is decorated with posters of plays and musicals that have bombed. The poster of Side Show is at the framers' shop now.

The actors who eat at his restaurant are the ones appearing, for however long, in plays nearby. It does not feel touristy, 'though undoubtedly many tourists who love Broadway gravitate. Waiters are attentive and get you out in time for the curtain. The diners who really enjoy Joe Allen stick to a few dishes on the menu. House-made paparadelle is pretty delicious, and the dark crusty bread in the bread basket accompanies it well. Lobster roll is really good, but especially the Joe Allen hamburger, served medium-rare, with toasted bun and pickles, has a dedicated following. The spinach side dish is fluffy and a triumph. Popeye would adore this place. But the best is that at Joe Allen's bar or table area, you mix with marvelous New Yorkers. 

Here are the charming actor types enjoying Joe Allen's at the table next to ours. When they were posing for a group selfie we intercepted this group portrait. Wait, isn't that a phenomenal stage and screen actress we all know standing in the back row? 

Posters behind them include that brief sensation, the musical based on Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

No comments: