Review: Side Show Manila

I had the opportunity to watch Atlantis Theatrical’s Side Show earlier than I planned (I couldn’t believe it!). I was just there to drop off Pablo, my eldest, who was watching with his friend Gabo. It was just as well because I got to see it first before I bring my two younger kids to see it at closing. That way, I’m prepared to explain to them scenes that they need help sorting out.

Side Show is a musical based on the true story of conjoined English twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton. While Side Show script stayed within the boundaries of the twin’s real story, American librettist Bill Russel took liberties in piecing together information bits and pieces in order to deliver a convicting message on human kindness – or the lack thereof.

Side-Show-Manila
Image source: Atlantis Theatrical on Facebook

Daisy and Violet Hilton

According to the musical, Daisy and Violet were trained by Circus Master, ”Sir,” to star in Side Shows (or small exhibit shows), along with other ”freaks” in his charge; until agent Terry Conner helped the twins win their freedom back from Sir, to become the biggest-raking performers at his vaudeville shows.

The twins were supposed to be having the time of their lives, until matters of the heart made them realize that they will always be considered ”freaks” and could never live normal lives.

Of course I’m not going to tell you everything, haha. You have to go and see the show yourself!

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Image source: Atlantis Theatrical on Facebook

Seamless Synchrony

Gab Pangilinan and Kayla Rivera who played Daisy and Violet respectively were perfectly cast for their roles. They successfully portrayed the similarities and the differences of the twin’s personalities.

While Kayla’s Violet was somewhat fragile and cautious, Gab Pangilinan’s Daisy was bold and playful and sensitive.

And their voices! Oh my goodness! The harmony is seamless! The tinges of their voices are in such perfect marriage, you can’t tell who’s singing what when they’re singing together.

And they moved in perfect synchrony, too! I didn’t think of the difficulty of movement much until I saw them moving up there onstage. And that’s the thing! They seemed to have it all down somehow, they move together as if they’ve been doing it all their lives.

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Image source: Atlantis Theatrical on Facebook

The Male Voices of Side Show

As for the other people in the cast, I’d like to give special mention to Tim Pavino. He played the Dog Boy among the freaks, but stopped the world in its tracks when he sang his solo as Harry Houdini.

Wow. Just wow. I’ve always thought he’s an amazing singer since his The Voice Philippines days, and sounded amazing in Matilda, but this kid just keeps getting better as days come.

Then there’s Arman Ferrer who played the twins’ loyal friend, Jake. His voice was, hands down, my favorite among all the male voices I heard that evening.

Markki Stroem was a revelation for me. I knew he was one of the leads in Jersey Boys which I didn’t get to see, so nothing prepared me for the level of skill and presence he exhibited that evening. If I didn’t know any better, I’d believe him to be Terry in the flesh.


One review pointed out that the uniqueness of each freak have not been established as well as we hoped. I wouldn’t say that he’s wrong, but that it’s not necessary. It’s only because people who came to see Side Show may have been expecting to see ”The Greatest Showman” live.

But Side Show isn’t The Greatest Showman. P.T. Barnum is nowhere in this story.

sideshow-cast
Photos with the director and the cast of Side Show. Grabbed all of our photos from Sweet Plantado on Facebook.

Side Show is about Daisy and Violet Hilton and the circus they had to suffer all their lives. And when we come to hear their story, we must come in this perspective.

Directed by Steven Conde for Atlantis Theatrical, Side Show ran its final weekend on September 21 to 23 at the RCBC Theater in Makati.

Atlantis Theatrical’s next offering is The Waitress, with Ms. Saigon Alumni Joanna Ampil as Jenna and Bituin Escalante as Becky, and directed by Bobby Garcia. Tickets are available at Ticket World. 

See you at the theater!

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8 Comments

  1. I’ve only watched theater performances a few times and I realized I want to experience more of the performing arts, and bring my kids with me as well. I have no idea about this ‘Side Show’ play and thank you for sharing it with us. 🙂

  2. I’m clueless when it comes to theater shows because we’re not fond of watching plays. Wala din ko budget for the tickets. hehehe! But one day, I will watch one Broadway show for experience, magagaling talaga mga theater actors.

    1. You might be interested to watch The Waitress this coming November. Also by Atlantis Theatrical. Theater superstar Joanna Ampil (Ms Saigon) and Bituin Escalante will be lead and support cast respectively. Music is very updated – Sara Bareilles is the composer. 🙂 It will be worth the ticket price.

  3. It seems like an interesting play that could teach good values to kids. I can also imagine how challenging it must be to play conjoined twins because the actresses really had to seem like they’ve been like that since birth. Sayang I missed it! I haven’t watched a play in so long. I hope they will have a repeat performance next year.

    1. Most companies produce 2-3 shows a year. The major players are Atlantis Theatrical, Resorts World, PETA, Repertory and 9 Work Theatrical. There are a lot of upcoming musicals before the year ends. Hope you can go and see one soon. 🙂

  4. I love musical/theater plays. I feel in love with it when I first saw the Prince and the Pauper play in the Philippines. I would love to watch this when I have a chance in the future. It’s great that this industry has survived the test of times and I think, it is now growing and glowing as ever. =)

  5. I always have mataas na ringing sa theater actors. I find them professional and magaling talaga. Arte, kanta and sayaw.

    Watching theater plays is one habit I’ve come to love. Only that when we had our little one, Di na ko nakakanood ulit because there’s no one to look after him.

    By the way you described the story, I would want to see SIDE Show Manila 🙂

  6. This is the type of theatrical show I wanna watch. And I even dreamt of being a part of theater plays back during my high school & college days. Sana someday when the budget allows. 😊

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