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Spotlight on Elden Street Players’ Side Show

By • Jul 26th, 2007 • Category: Backstage, Interviews

Listen to Mike talk with Lisa Anne Bailey, director of the Elden Street Players production of Side Show [MP3 6:21 1.8MB], opening this Friday.

Mike: This is Mike with ShowBizRadio and I am backstage after a rehearsal of Elden Street Players‘ production of Side Show. I am talking with the show’s director, Lisa Ann Bailey. Thanks very much for talking with me.

Lisa Anne: Thanks for coming tonight. You caught them on a good night.

Mike: This was a really fun show. I’m wondering how it came about. Were you involved in the process with Elden Street?

Lisa Anne: Actually as a director at Elden Street you submit your ideas to the Board of Directors. Then the Artistic Director and the board picks the show and the director together as one. Side Show actually (funny story) started out with a different director who is also an actor and got a part in a touring company. I was going to choreograph the show. He immediately called me and said, “Ok, you’re not choreographing anymore, you’re directing.” I was thrilled. I was absolutely thrilled.

Mike: When was that? How long did this all take to get put together?

Lisa Anne: That was well over a year and a half ago. I think we actually started the realistic planning of it eight or nine months ago.

Mike: So eight or nine months ago you started thinking up concepts of how to do the show?

Lisa Anne: Absolutely. It’s been a long journey.

Mike: So the obvious question I have after I saw the sisters come on was did you ever think of doing some kind of prosthetic device to keep them together?

Lisa Anne: I did consider it. I even played with things prior to auditions to see if that would work. But I think that the challenge to the actresses is not being physically connected, but having to look like they are. It has been quite the journey for them to come to grips with that person being attached to them at all times. How they walk and how they sit and how they run and all the different things they do in the course of the show.

Mike: This might be more of a question for the costumer, but the costumes of the sisters weren’t quite the same. They were a little bit off. As the show progressed they got more and more different. Was that on purpose or was that something I saw that I shouldn’t have seen?

Lisa Anne: A couple of those are something you saw that you shouldn’t have seen. But it was also part of my point is to make sure that even though conjoined together they are two entirely separate people. So if they are not always in matching outfits, as sadly the world thinks twins should be, it gives them a little personality of their own. As you witnessed they are very different characters throughout the show.

Mike: When you were casting Daisy and Violet, was it hard finding the two that could work together with height and body build, and then with which character. Could they have been swapped?

Lisa Anne: They could have been swapped. I think we definitely chose the right way. The fear that we had from the very beginning was that we couldn’t find two girls that could vocally handle the roles. We knew the likelihood of a set of twins was slim to nil. Also being sure that we were taking into consideration height and look. We came as close as we could there. Very different height. There is about 3 1/2 inches between them. One has a higher heel on. They’re not the same body types, but I think about five minutes into it you forget because they sound great together.

Mike: What about the other “freaks” in the show? In the audition process, were people wanting to be a freak? How did that whole process work?

Lisa Anne: Anytime you’re casting an ensemble it’s a crap shoot for lack of a better word because you never know if people are going to be willing to be in the chorus. This is a little better than a chorus because they’re really a part of the show, a vital part of the show. They are the everything that the rest of the main characters don’t portray. I was pleased that two of the girls that auditioned for the lead roles stayed with the ensemble. That is highly unusual. If they’re going for a lead the likelihood of them staying in the ensemble is slim to nil. I really made it clear in the auditions that it was an ensemble piece and that their roles were vital. As much as possible I would give them as much stage time as I possibly could. I think we pulled that off.

Mike: What thoughts went along with designing the actual circus side show area? You have the mirrors. You have the curtain effect going for the big top. Anything else you considered?

Lisa Anne: We toyed with a zillion different things. On Broadway they did it with two large sets of bleachers that became everything. The effect that they also came up with was the proscenium arches at the front so that we had a vaudeville stage in the front, but still the side show circus effect in the back. The fun house mirrors were a concept from day one. That was the first thing I wanted and what’s missing up there tonight is what they’re getting ready to hang now, is the freak show posters that will go on the back walls.

Mike: Anything else you would like to say?

Lisa Anne: It’s been quite a journey. It’s been the hardest show I’ve directed. I’ve directed quite a few shows, but this has actually been. Alisa Rossman, who is my Musical Director, we refer to this as the beast. I think it’s because it’s the opera you would think it would be just as easy to block people in their movements when they’re singing. And it’s oddly not. You have to think about what is the music doing. Why I’m asking them to do normal movements because they’re constantly singing. I’ve never done anything like that before. I’ve seen operas, but I never thought about it from the directing perspective and how to do that. I think that was our biggest challenge was trying to incorporate natural movement when you’re walking around singing everything that you do.

Mike: Thank you very much for talking with me. I appreciate it.

Lisa Anne: Thanks for coming. Hope to spread the word.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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