I feel extremely lucky that I happened to see an unusually large number of shows in the couple weeks before everything shut down. I’m slowly getting around to writing about them.
Side Show, at JMU Theater, was a lovely show. I don’t love this score or this script particularly much, but I was curious about Jacob Brent, the director. He’s new to JMU and I wasn’t familiar with his work. The direct and choreography for this show were truly wonderful; I’m excited to see more of his work.
I appreciated the specificity with which the choreography moved time forward. Often, shows set in time periods other than our own will do a pastiche of the movement that was popular at that time, but modernizing it to make it feel more accessible. This choreography was specific to the period, throughout. The story covers a substantial period of real time, and I could see that through how the dancing changed.
The acting and direction also had a great deal of specificity. I’ve only seen Side Show once before, 15 years ago in a professional production in Cleveland, but the one thing I remember about that production was that I found the twins indistinguishable. I constantly lost track of who was who. Although the text repeatedly asserts that they are very different people, I saw no evidence of this in their acting. In JMU’s production, however, Meghan Greene (Violet) and Kathleen Halverson (Daisy) played their objectives with such clarity that the core conflicts of the story made sense to me. Al Gravina, as Sir, was also fantastic. He played the truth of this unlikable monster, allowing him to be fully human.