A Review of “Side Show” on Broadway and a 2-for-1 Offer!

Last week I got the opportunity to see Side Show on Broadway. I received two comped tickets in exchange for a review. And luckily, the musical blew me away.

Photo Dec 14, 3 00 27 PMIt’s an amazing (based on a) true story. Here’s the premise, which I was not aware of until my friend and I found our seats and opened our Playbills: Daisy and Violet Hilton were British twins born in 1908, fused at the pelvis. Sold by their mother, the twins were raised to sing, dance and play musical instruments, and eventually traveled to Texas and placed in sideshows during the 1930s. They were completely controlled by their handlers and even though they made a lot of money, they never saw a dime until they emancipated themselves. Their true story is a harrowing one, and Broadway managed to take that story and turn it into a glittering feast for the eyes and for the heart. So many times during this musical I found myself with wet eyes, completely moved by the characters and their pain and strength.

The musical opens with the sideshow. We see the typical players: Bearded Lady, Cannibal King, the boy who’s half dog, the Tattooed Lady, and Sir, the owner of the sideshow and of the girls. We also meet the beautiful and talented Daisy and Violet Hilton, Siamese twins who have been exploited all their lives because of their conjoined bodies. They’re also naive, innocent dreamers who want to see those dreams come true. Through an introductory musical number we learn that Daisy is the one who wants to be a movie star, and that her sister Violet cherishes a more modest dream: simply to get married and have a family. Both dreams are close to impossible as they are. Right there, I could feel their pain, made the more poignant by the fact that I knew these characters were based on real people.

Daisy and Violet are “discovered” by a hot-shot talent scout and are liberated from their handler Sir and trained to be vaudeville stars. They quickly become famous but they can’t ever be normal girls like they want to be. I wish I could transport myself back into the show and experience these songs again, with songs like “I Will Never Leave You,” “Like Everyone Else” and “One Plus One Equals Three.”

I suppose I should buy myself the soundtrack! The characters are also extremely well developed: Daisy becomes a shameless flirt after her dreams of Hollywood are dashed and her sister Violet lashes out at her for acting “fast.” The talent scout, Terry, becomes obsessively infatuated with Daisy but is tortured by her condition; he can’t overcome the fact that she’s attached to her sister and wants her “all to myself.” His song—a tortured man’s obsessive song—is so powerful my jaw dropped. It also includes an amazing dream sequence wherein he dances with Daisy (separate from her sister) and you can feel the sexual tension and longing building up in each character.

Then there’s Jake, a former sideshow performer and the caretaker of the twins. He’s desperately in love with Violet and when she accepts a marriage proposal, sings a heartbroken song about how Violet “should be loved…like I love you.” He knows that the marriage is simply another exploitation and that Violet can’t see it. His song is also one that shook me to my core and let me feel everything the characters were feeling.

It’s also a visually arresting show, which is the norm for Broadway but which still blew me away. We sat front row (a little too close, but hey, I’m not complaining) so we could see every line, every scratch, every muscle of these actors and every detail of the set. It was all so beautifully set, blocked, and choreographed.

It was also SO much fun to see two Broadway actors pretend to be literally attached at the hip, dancing a pas de quatre with two men, pulling the other one along when they walk angrily away, and having to dance vaudeville dances, all the while probably mashing their bums together. The effect was so realistic that when, during the finale, they finally separate (supposedly in their heads) I was like, “WAIT.” I forgot the two women were in fact not born that way. I think that’s a success.

Simply put, this show pierced my heart and soul. After the show I looked up the Hilton sisters briefly and learned that their story is even sadder than the one portrayed onscreen. The musical does scrub away some of the worse parts of their lives and makes the sisters—supposedly very promiscuous in real life (although the mechanics of that fact make me cringe and also scratch my head)—much more innocent and childlike. I’m planning on reading a biography of the sisters and have chosen The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton: A True Story of Conjoined Twins. There’s also a well-researched documentary entitled Bound By Flesh. And if you want to see the Hilton sisters for real onscreen, they starred in two movies: Freaks and Chained For Life, an exploitation film.

The real Hilton sisters

What really made me sad is that due to low ticket sales (even though the reviews were great) Side Show is closing on January 4th. So, for my readers, I can offer two-for-one tickets until January 4th for any performance! For those of you in New York please go see this show before it closes. And for those of you elsewhere, come to New York and see this show. ;) You won’t regret it.

Redeem the offer online by clicking https://www.telechargeoffers.com. The online checkout code is “SS241RSH.” 

musical photos from Broadway.com.

Christmas in New York

Every year at Christmas I turn into Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2 and see the city with new eyes. New York sparkles at Christmas. It’s concentrated in Midtown where the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree holds court and the Saks Fifth Avenue windows glitter beyond the crowds. But it’s also the small things: the trees wrapped in twinkle lights, lampposts adorned with wreaths and bows, storefronts decorated with garland and those Starbucks red cups. I’ve been able to spend a couple evenings doing some quintessential New York at Christmas things this season and it’s been great, especially since I usually don’t get around to doing these things until Christmas is over: like visiting Bryant Park and of course, seeing the tree.

Here are some photos of why I love New York at Christmas:

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I also got the chance to see a new show on Broadway, Side Show, which I absolutely adored. I got tickets for free in exchange for a review on this blog (gotta love the perks) and I’m excited to share the story of the Hilton sisters with you guys. It was a moving musical with an amazing book and even better music. See more on that tomorrow! And follow along on my Instagram to see what other awesome Christmassy things I’m doing this season. And of course, whatever holiday you celebrate this season, I hope it’s happy and full of love.

Jewelry by Mondaynoon

Recently I got the opportunity to sample some jewelry from a company called Mondaynoon. I chose some blue pieces for review, with a leaf detail and glittering sky blue stones. Here’s what I picked:

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I think these pieces of jewelry are of such good quality, especially the Swarovski Elements crystals. I love the design and the boldness, especially of the necklace. While I don’t wear jewelry like this every day (I’m more a fan of costume jewelry) I think I’ll wear these pieces for special occasions, especially since it’s Christmas and there are a lot of events to go to now. I’ll also probably wear the earrings every day, since they’re just big enough to catch your eye but not so big that they’re uncomfortable. I’m not a huge jewelry lover, but I’m in love with this jewelry.

What do you guys think?

jewelry c/o Mondaynoon

The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the State of Nature

After one month, I finally turned the last page of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This thing was sad. As expected, it took me a long time to finish this book, longer than it took me to read Les Miserables, in fact, which was 1,200 pages! I joked to my sister that this book is Victor Hugo’s grand experiment in not editing, but in reality, this book had its hooks in me by the end. I had that feeling common whenever you finish a really engrossing book, as if you’re pulling out of its center of gravity but still feel the draw. Like the Death Star. ;) This book had a really strong tractor beam.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.42.12 AMThe book features a motley cast of characters only some of whom I was familiar with (from the Disney movie, of course): Dom Claude Frollo, La Esmeralda, Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers, Quasimodo himself, Clopin Troillefou. But there was also Pierre Gringoire, Jehan Frollo, and Sister Gudule. The characters are also so different: Dom Claude Frollo adopts Quasimodo willingly, out of moving compassion and pity. La Esmeralda is desperately in love with Phoebus who is a womanizer and doesn’t care a whit about her. Quasimodo—the gentle Quasimodo—is a lot more complex, and his character speaks volumes about the problems of society Hugo wanted to call attention to. He’s also deaf, and a beastly person because of his complete ostracism from society. He barely speaks except to his bells, and Notre Dame is not only his home, but his entire world: the grand cathedral is an extension of himself, inextricably linked to his identity. Quasimodo is the soul of Notre Dame, and deformed as he is, Notre Dame is his [beautiful] other body.

Still—this book shouldn’t have been renamed for the English translation: this book is only partly about the hunchback. The original title is far superior: Le Notre Dame de Paris. This is a story of the cathedral, and about Paris, and knowing that made me re-shift my focus while reading and helped me understand the story better. Victor Hugo was writing to an 1830 audience, caught in the grips of the vestiges of the French Revolution and the Revolution of 1830. The book emphasizes the parallel problems of society that were present in the Middle Ages (the book is set in 1482) and contemporary 1830s. And it’s also an ode to Paris, to the cathedral (Notre Dame was falling into disrepair in the 19th century and Hugo’s novel was in part an effort to make people care more about it), and to the history of France. Just like Les Mis, Hugo creates this startlingly vivid cast of characters and weaves this complex story and then leads us away from it, lets us see the larger scope of political turmoil, social unrest, extreme miscarriages of justice, and the love for his country and countrymen. There is so much here I could talk about for days, but there is one passage in particular, about Quasimodo, that I think was the most poignant to me:

The wretched sufferer finding, like a chained beast, that he could not break his collar, again became quiet, thought at times a sigh of rage heaved all the cavities of his chest. Not a blush, not a trace of shame, was to be discerned in his face. He was too far from the social state and too near the state of nature to know what shame is. Besides, is it possible that disgrace can be felt by one cast in a mold of extreme deformity? But rage, hatred, despair slowly spread over that hideous face a cloud which gradually became more and more black, more and more charged with an electricity that darted in a thousand flashes from the eye of the Cyclops.

This is the moment Quasimodo is whipped and rotated on a rack. La Esmeralda answers his pleas for water and ascends the platform so he can drink. She’s kind but naive, and even when Quasimodo saves her from hanging, she finds it nearly impossible to stand his presence because of his extreme ugliness. There is no incorporating Quasimodo into society, none at all, because of his ugliness and his deafness. That really pinched my heart.

So did the ending. But still—it’s the “good sad.” I think. All I know is that I would have pushed that effing Dom Claude off the cathedral a hundred pages sooner. Also: that joke in the Disney film spoken by the (much-improved) Captain Phoebus to his horse—”Achilles, heel”—might still be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

DIY // Maid of Honor’s Shoes

This will be the last shoe DIY for a while, since I’m still picking dried glue off my fingers. For my sister’s wedding (which was December 5th and beautiful!), as you know, I bedazzled my own shoes, my sister the bride’s shoes, and last, my sister the maid of honor’s shoes. She had an old pair of peep-toe nude heels with scuffs on the back, and so to cover the scuffs and make her shoes unique, I did a Miu Miu-style jewel design on the heel. Here are some photos of the process:

I used my trusty E-6000, my abused tweezer (I have no jewelry-making apparatus), and a steady hand. I put on Star Wars and spent a couple hours jewelling:

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What do you think? I think it made my sister’s wedding just a little more special.

Vintage-Inspired Glasses // Firmoo Feature

Ever since first grade I’ve needed glasses. When I was 12 I finally had enough, got contacts, and never looked back. I haven’t worn my glasses for years and didn’t ever expect to. But when I got the chance to select a pair of frames by Firmoo, I saw the opportunity to get a pair of glasses I may actually wear.

Here are the frames I selected:

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I love the color, the keyhole bridge, and the cat-eye shape of the rims. They also came beautifully packaged with two glasses cases, one with a vintage map design I’m obsessed with. I’m really excited to actually wear these.

Firmoo glasses are pretty and durable, but one thing I didn’t like is the material of the temples. I would rather they’d have been of the same color and material of the rims. As they are, they cheapen the look of the glasses. But that’s a small thing. Here are them on:

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I never thought I’d like wearing glasses again, but Firmoo changed my mind.

Plus, Firmoo is now running a special “First Pair Free” promotion. For new customers, the first pair is free including the frame, carrying case and cloth. All you pay for is shipping and the lenses. So if you know your prescription and want to save a few dollars, it’s a pretty good deal.

I’ve got an outfit to share tailored around these glasses coming soon!

glasses c/o Firmoo