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Theatre / Side Show

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Side Show is a musical with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger based on the real lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, a pair of Conjoined Twins who gained notability in vaudeville and a few films in the early 20th century.

In the musical, Daisy and Violet are one of the main attractions of a traveling freak show. Daisy is outgoing and desirous of fame and fortune. Violet is the shy one, who just wants to be loved and to be treated like a regular person. One day they are discovered by Terry, a talent scout, and his friend Buddy, an aspiring musician. Overcoming the will of the Boss, Buddy and Terry create an act for the twins and put them on Vaudeville. The twins are a sensation, which pleases Daisy especially, but all is not well. Daisy and Violet have fallen for Terry and Buddy, respectively. Hearts are won, lost, and broken as the men must decide whether they are strong enough to love someone who is simply but undeniably different.

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Tropes appearing in the musical:

  • Sex by Proxy: The musical has a scene where the Conjoined Twins and their respective love interests are on a Tunnel of Love ride. Violet seems to be able to feel Daisy's reaction to being kissed by Terry, and notes that it's much stronger than her own response to being kissed by her fiancé.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Sorta-kinda subverted, rather touchingly, in the finale - Violet, one half of a Siamese twin pair, is marrying a man who can't cope with her 'other half' in order to preserve everyone's careers. There's a man who loves and accepts her who she has turned down (because she can't bear the stigma of marrying a black man), but "if there is anyone who thinks these two should not be joined together..." is meant to refer to Violet and her sister Daisy, who have just affirmed that no matter what happens, they are (literally and figuratively) bonded forever and love each other. No one stops the wedding.
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  • Why Waste a Wedding?: When Violet's big publicity event of a wedding fails to go off, her (conjoined twin) sister Daisy proposes to the man she's in love with on these grounds. He turns her down.

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