Slow Burn Theatre Company of West Boca has established itself in the last four years as a small but purposefully daring presenter of worthwhile musical theatre. Straying from big-budget, sure-fire hits, Slow Burn's co-artistic directors Patrick Fitzwater and Matthew Korinko continually bring pieces to their stage that are typically rarely produced but deserve a second chance in front of new audiences. Bill Russell and Henry Krieger's 'Side Show' is a perfect example of Slow Burn's mission. While some theatergoers may recognize a ballad or two, most have never seen a physical manifestation of the show, making it an almost clean slate on which to create. Serving as Director/Choreographer for most of Slow Burn's productions, Fitzwater builds this world as a maddening circus filled with somehow completely relevant freaks of nature.
The success of this piece very clearly lies in its ability to connect with an audience by stripping down the show-within-a-show framework and hitting home with the raw emotion of very relatable characters. Seen best in "Say Goodbye to the Freak Show," the performers of the Side Show reveal themselves to be real people who have become a tight-knit family after traveling for so long together with a show. A few actors may know that feeling. But it is the strong leading foursome of the recognizably 'normal' young girls Daisy and Violet Hilton who happened to be literally joined at the hip and their lovers Terry and Buddy that drive the passion of 'Side Show.'
Displaying the needs and wants of two young girls who are merely seeking love and success, the twins are played remarkably well by Kaela Antolino and Courtney Poston and prove that they could be any one of us. Although their dramatic power ballads probably number one too many, their soaring voices blend beautifully on the well-known 'I Will Never Leave You' at the end of the show, but the most powerful 'Who Will Love Me As I Am' that closes the first act highlights Poston's clear pop mix and ability to break hearts. Matthew Korinko as Terry and Rick Pena as Buddy create wonderfully tormented men who find themselves caught between love and acceptance over the course of their separate relationships with the girls.
The circus atmosphere was maintained well with the support of fantastic lighting by Lance Blank which used cleverly-placed side lights to create larger than life shadows on the walls of the house. The only disconnect came with the transitions into the vaudeville numbers which, presumably, should have had a more grandiose MGM quality to contrast the minimally produced Side Show. The differences between the two opposing worlds were missing in both design and choreography, and could have strengthened the dichotomy of performance vs. reality. However, the dynamics between the four leading players make 'Side Show' definitely worth the trip to West Boca.
Conor Walton as The Boss and the Cast of Slow Burn Theatre's SIDE SHOW. Photo Credit: Gemma Bramham.
Matthew Korinko as Terry, Kaela Antolino as Daisy Hilton, Jerel Brown as Jake, Courtney Poston as Violet Hilton and Rick Pena as Buddy. Photo Credit: Gemma Bramham.
Matthew Korinko as Terry, Kaela Antolino as Daisy Hilton, Courtney Poston as Violet Hilton and Rick Pena as Buddy. Photo Credit: Gemma Bramham.