'Side Show' opens at CSULB

LONG BEACH - "Side Show," a fictionalized story of real-life conjoined twins and their journey from circus curiosity to vaudeville starlets, opens Friday at Cal State Long Beach.Set during the Great Depression, the musical sets a grim depiction of exploitation and the fundamental human need for acceptance. "I think that one of the things that makes the play so infinitely sad is that these two girls long for that same naive American dream that we all do," explained director Joanne Gordon. "It's this whole notion of how we all, at heart, long for that conventional cliché, 'happily ever after' falling in love, and some people by the very nature of their existence are precluded from having it. They are absolutely unable to achieve conventional romance because people cannot get over their 'problem.' People are not accepting and are not able to adjust." Gordon also pointed out the parallels between the downtrodden atmosphere of the 1930s and our current societal state. "Once again we are in a Depression. There is this whole notion that when economic stress occurs we need to feel better about ourselves by marginalizing somebody else, which is precisely what happens in this play," Gordan said. "The opening, which is very Brechtian, 'Come Look at the Freaks,' asks the very pertinent question, 'Who is the freak?: the audience or the people in the Side Show." "Side Show" debuted on Broadway in 1997 but, despite critical success and several Tony nominations, did not receive an extended run. For Gordon, the poignant story and rich musical score outweigh its lack of commercial success. "It's not a well-known piece, and I think undeservedly so," she said. "I'm hoping that people will see it and fall in love with it as I did. I think it's important, in terms of the mission of this department, that we have the luxury of doing things that are a little different and a little provocative." "Side Show" opens Friday and runs for eight performances, closing on March 24. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a matinee March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for seniors and students. For tickets, call (562) 985-5526 or go to csulb.edu/depts/theatre.

********** Published: March 15, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 48