Pauper Players Tell Story of `Side Show'

"Come look at the freaks," the opening number of Pauper Players' new musical "Side Show" invites. Those freaks include Siamese twins, a fortune teller, a bearded lady and a reptile man.

The play, directed by senior David Lorenc, is based on the life of Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Using the setting of a 1930s carnival freak show, "Side Show" forces the audience to explore its apprehensions, inadequacies and desire to be accepted.

"The story is really touching and sad, but I think the audience will come away with something very deep," said junior Lorene Atkins, the play's producer.

The plot centers on the twins' departure from the carnival and their attempts to be accepted as normal human beings.

"It is very different from most musicals," Lorenc said. "It presents an odd story, but deep down it is beautiful and everyone can identify with it."

The musical opened on Broadway in 1997. Pauper Players' production, which has been in rehearsal since September, boasts two especially strong female roles in Daisy and Violet. The twins will be portrayed by sophomore Meredyth Whitford and junior Cassie Cherney.

Whitford, the new discovery of the show, is co-starring in her first principal role in a Pauper Players production as Daisy. She said the cast "has had to come across challenges doing such a difficult show, but it has definitely been a worthwhile experience."

Cherney, a drama major, is performing the other half of the twins, Violet. During the rehearsal process, Whitford and Cherney were joined at the hip with a tie, but in the actual show there will be nothing physically connecting the two.

"Side Show" boasts an acclaimed score that includes songs such as "Come Look at the Freaks" and "Who Will Love Me as I Am?"

While the musical is filled with odd characters, everyone involved with the production insists that "Side Show" is much more than a simple freak show at which the audience can gape.

As Lorenc said in his director's notes, "`Side Show' is a poignant musical that dismisses our desire to be normal in favor of simply being human."

"Side Show" opened Thursday at Playmakers Theatre on Cameron Avenue. Performances continue through Sunday, with nightly showings at 8 p.m. and a matinee 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 for University patrons and can be purchased at the door or by calling 962-8481.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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