IN the 1920s and 30s conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton played headline acts in vaudeville and burlesque shows in both America and the UK. Although born in Brighton, they really made a name for themselves in America both on stage and later on screen.
Now a musical inspired by their story, Side Show, has just opened at the Southwark Playhouse and it is powerful stuff.
Our heroines, Daisy played by Louise Dearman and Violet played by Laura Pitt-Pulford, are first seen playing in a seedy side show alongside a bearded lady, tattoed lady, fortune teller, half man half woman, lizard man, a three legged man and dog boy.
They are trapped by an oppressive and nasty ringmaster who makes money from his “freak show”. However when they are spotted by a talent agent and his associate, they are thrust into the spotlight of the 1920s Orpheum Circuit. Their lives and fortunes change as they become highly paid vaudeville acts.
But it’s not all plain sailing. Whilst Daisy loves being in the spotlight, Violet doesn’t and wants a quiet life with a husband and family of her own.
And it almost comes good for them with a proposal of marriage for Violet from Buddy and the blossoming of love between Daisy and Terry. But their being conjoined is always an issue.
It is incredibly touching and moving largely due to the impressive performances by Louise Deadman and Laura Pitt-Pulford who are perfectly cast as the sisters.
Their vocal range is superb and there are moments when the songs and their delivery is breathtaking.
The rest of the cast are equally good with fine performances in particular from Hayden Oakley as Terry and Dominic Hodson as Buddy.
The set it simple with a glittering tower at the back of the stage and the music too is terrific with a variety of styles from slow and poignant to fast paced and upbeat.
And although their story may not be known to many it is one we can all identify with - that of acceptance, love, tolerance and what it is to be a bit different.
Side Show is on at the Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway until December 3. Tickets cost £25. Visit www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 020 7407 0234.