Saying Goodbye to the Freak Show: Side Show's Inevitable Demise

January 3, 2015 8:17 PM

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Back in 1997, after seeing Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner do a television appearance, my mother said about Side Show: "Who would want to see a musical about freaks?" I was a student, not yet a professional writer, but I had gone. Not many other people did. Perhaps most shared my mother's thinking. I don't think, despite some positive reviews, it was ever a mystery to me why Side Show was a bomb. It was a failure because most people don't want to see a melancholy musical about the life of Siamese twins.

In 2001, Singapore had a hit with the musical Chang and Eng, centering on the twins about whom the term "Siamese twins" was coined. The show was at one point expected to come to Broadway, under producer Kevin McCollum's stewardship. It never made it. Why? Well, I don't know. At the time, I heard the...

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