Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Touching story of Hilton twins in Genesius Theatre's 'Side Show'

The story of two bright and beautiful young women joined together at the hip –literally – and the universal need for acceptance and the strength of the human spirit unfolds on stage as Genesius Theatre in Reading presents the Henry Krieger and Bill Russell musical, "Side Show," through July 2. The inspirational tale is a true story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton who became stars during the Depression. Their extraordinary bondage brings them fame but denies them love.

The show, told almost entirely in song, follows the Hilton sisters' progression from England to America, around the vaudeville circuit and to Hollywood on the eve of their appearance in the 1932 film, "Freaks."

The recent Broadway revival of "Side Show" brings a completely reworked plot and new songs. It delves deeper into the back story of the twins, including their relationship with Harry Houdini and of a proposed separation surgery.

"The musical has a really special impact on the people who see it," said Christopher Sperat, director/music director of the Genesius production. "There's something about it that brings people together. We are all misfits in some way. It's something that speaks to everyone. As we search for acceptance, we recognize the differences in each other, whether it's a personality trait or physical difference. Rather than using our differences as justification for relational superiority, the play challenges us to seek self-acceptance by embracing our individualities."

Daisy and Violet Hilton were born 1908, joined at the base of their spine, to an impoverished, unmarried, 16-year-old barmaid in England, who sold them to Mary Hilton, who immediately began to showcase them.

Trained to sing, dance and play instruments, the twins became popular in Europe. They moved to the United States in 1916. By age 15, they were among the highest-paid performers in the nightclub and vaudeville circuit, although they were virtually enslaved by their guardian. At 23, they were freed by a San Antonio court order to embark on a career of their own as the "Hilton Sisters Revue."

The Genesius cast includes Dara Himes as Violet Hilton, Simmon Fecho as Daisy Hilton, Joey Moray as Terry Connor, Brandon Kegerize as Buddy Foster, DeShaun Williams as Jake, and Jordan Baylor as Sir.

Music conductor is Andrew Cusano. Choreographer is Jessica Bostock, with set design by Brandon Kegerize, lighting design by Spencer Moss Fecho and Julia Elberfeld, and costume design by Cynthia Kantner.

The play is PG-13-Rated.

Genesius Theatre is located at 153 North 10th St., Reading.

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The 82nd annual spring juried exhibition is underway at The Baum School of Art in Allentown through July 5, with both 2D and 3D art by members of the Lehigh Art Alliance.

Jurors are Materese Roche, contemporary realist painter, and Katherine Stanek, contemporary sculptor working in bronze and concrete.

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Free concerts by Bachata star Kiko Rodriguez and salsa singer Herman Olivera are part of the entertainment at this weekend's seventh annual ¡Sabor! Latin Festival at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The lineup include arts and crafts, children's activities, Latin dance presentations, a Mariachi Mass, and free screening of the film, "We Like It Like That" at the ArtsQuest Center's Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas.

Herman Olivera performs Friday at 8 p.m., at the Levitt Pavilion, with a voice that permeates the sound of hard-hitting salsa from the 1980s to the present and with album credits with the likes of Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, among others. On Saturday at 8 p.m., it's Dominican native Kiko Rodriguez, who's toured throughout the Caribbean, Europe and the United States.

Other performers include Puerto Rican Institute of Music Jibaro Ensemble, East Coast Salsa Scene, DJ Ju5tin, Nitschmann Middle School Step Team, Fabricio Orihuela, Anaisa, Grupo En Secuencia and Hector Rosado Orchestra.

Also returning is late-night dance party "Reggaeton Night" on Friday at 11 p.m., featuring El Elegido and Bolo Flow & Friends.

A traditional Latin Mass in the ArtsQuest Fowler Blast Furnace Room on Sunday at 10 a.m. will feature regional mariachi band Mariachi Maya.

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Northampton Community College is premiering its newly-established professional summer theater program this year with musical productions, their next one being the Lehigh Valley premiere of the musical comedy parody of horror classics, "Disaster!" by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick. It opens Wednesday through July 9 at the campus theater, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem. Director is Bill Mutimer of the college's theater/communications department.

The year is 1979, and New York's hottest A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters. As night turns into day, everyone struggles to survive and, quite possibly, repair the love that they’ve lost…or at least escape the killer rats.

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Larry Shue's comedy, "The Nerd," opens Friday at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope and runs through July 15.

The cast includes Grant Shaud, who played Miles on the Emmy Award-winning television series, "Murphy Brown," and most recently on Broadway in "Relatively Speaking;" Zuzanna Szadkowski, who was Dorota Kishlovsky on the drama series, "Gossip Girl," and Nurse Pell in Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick," and Joe Kinosian, writer and star of the award-winning musical, "Murder for Two," who will play Rick Steadman, the "Nerd" of the title. Kyle Cameron, Dora Maver Moore Winner for "Cranked," plays Willum Cubbert.

The story unfolds when Willum, aspiring young architect in Terre Haute, Indiana, often has told his friends about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI who saved his life but whom he has never met. He had written to Rick that as long as he was alive, Rick would have somebody on Earth who would do anything for him. When Rick shows up unexpectedly on the night of Willum's birthday, Willum is delighted but it suddenly becomes apparent that Rick is a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence, and less tact. Plus, it looks as if Rick never plans to leave.

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The "Magnificent Seven" art show features the work of seven accomplished Bucks County artists in an exhibition at the Raymond James Offices, 4 Caufield Place, Newtown, Bucks County, in its "Art in the Workplace" program. A reception with the artists will be held tonight from 5 to 8.

The seven artists are: Jane Ramsey, Tom Foral, Donna D. Lovely, Diane Greenberg, Margaret Anderson, Cindy Roesinger, and Pearl Mintzer.

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