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Theater Diary: In Which Our Hero’s Head Explodes From Sheer Nerd Joy

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
June 12, 2012

So as you may have noticed from the Tony Awards coverage, I’m in New York, where I’m gearing up for tonight’s performance of a play whose four-letter title I can’t type here. (The generally accepted polite version is The Cockfight Play, though even The New York Times hasn’t been able to resist winking in the direction of the actual word.)

And while there’s certainly some theater news happening here — Al Pacino will come back to Broadway for another pass at Glengarry Glen Ross, the Times reports, and producer Jordan Roth announced an extension for the Tony-winning Clybourne Park — the development that made me throw up my hands and dance briefly around my borrowed Manhattan office came courtesy of a source in my D.C. home base: the Kennedy Center.

Which, to my absolute glee, announced this morning that it’ll be co-producing a revival of the 1997 musical Side Show, a groundbreaking show about the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. With a score by Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger and a book by Bill Russell (The Texas Chainsaw Musical), the story of the two Depression-era carnies-turned-vaudeville stars wasn’t exactly a smash on Broadway: It closed after a wan 91 performances. Too dark for its day; too cruel to some of its characters; too in its audiences’ face. Needless to say, I loved it.

Side Show may not have made bank, but it made two stars: Alice Ripley (who’d go on to Tony glory in Next to Normal) and Emily Skinner (The Full Monty). And it made history: For their extraordinary performances, Ripley and Skinner became the only actors ever jointly nominated for a leading-player Tony.

So the news that a first-class revival is coming down the pipeline will have the show’s cultists — and they are a vocal lot — in tailspins. It’s apparently been substantially overhauled in workshops; the director attached is Oscar-winner Bill Condon, who’s known better for his movies (including a couple of the Twilight films, though he’s done much classier fare as well). Alas, we’ll have to wait a bit to see the result; it’ll open at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in the fall of 2013, and won’t come to the Kennedy Center until June 2014.

After that? Who knows. This season’s widely praised Follies revival started at the Kennedy Center, as did a short-lived Ragtime revival in 2009.

Of course Kennedy Center spokesman John Dow says nobody’s goofy enough to be talking transfer this far out. But a fellow can hope — right? [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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