A couple of weeks back, I finally made a bucket list dream of mine come true: Going to some shows at the famous 54 Below. In case you aren’t in the know, 54-B is a little underground restaurant that also doubles as a cabaret performance space. And you know what that means? Broadway stars are there all the time! Patti Lupone, Jeremy Jordan, and countless others perform there regularly. It’s sort of like a secret club house for theater lovers, and it was definitely a place that, once I arrived, I felt right at home in.
So now you’re probably wondering, what did I go to see? Side Show themed events, of course! The first was a duet show of the Hilton sisters themselves, Emily Padgett and Erin Davie. It was a more intimate, casual type of affair, with lots of beautiful ballads, and even pop tunes, on the set list! But the best moment of the night was when the two did a mash-up of “Old Fashion Wedding” from Annie Get Your Gun with Side Show‘s “Who Will Love Me As I Am.” That, along with every piece performed by the duo, was breathtaking. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for these two, especially if it is a country album! Get on it, ladies!
The next show I attended was a reunion of sorts for the beloved revival, called Side Show: Added Attractions. A majority of the ensemble, along with most of the leads, were in attendance, singing both important numbers from the current version of the musical, along with some deleted tracks. The evening was hosted by lyricist, Bill Russell, who introduced each of the songs and their significance within the history of Side Show.
There were a lot of highlights of the evening, but a few stood out among the best of the best. First, Blair Ross (who played various roles, including The Bearded Lady) performed a full version of one of the songs showcased in the flashback sequence in the revival. This woman is beyond underrated. She has so much energy, beauty, and “creepy” charm in her performance, it’s hard to take your eyes off of her. Clearly, if the Rebecca musical ever got its feet off the ground, she’d be the best Mrs. Danvers to ever grace the stage.
Another highlight was getting to hear the ensemble do a down to earth cover of “Who Will Love Me As I Am.” This was one of the best renditions I’ve ever heard of the ballad, which is also my favorite moment in the entire show. Powerful, emotional, and everything in between, I definitely was full of them “feels” when the number ended. But, without a doubt, the coolest moment of the evening involved Emily, Erin, along with male leads Ryan Silverman and Matthew Hydzik. In the original production of Side Show, The Hilton Twins vaudeville debut song was different than the one that ended up in the revival. And never did I think, in my wildest dreams, that’d I get to hear both songs at the same time. But, I did, and it was the stuff of legend. But best of all? This performance proved that a gender-swap version of Side Show would be incredible, especially with Ryan and Matthew as the twins.
To close the show, the cast sang a lovely rendition of “Say Goodbye To The Side Show” along with the immortal classic, “I Will Never Leave You.” Though I’ve heard both songs countless times at this point, it still was a pretty emotional moment for everyone in the room. As I’ve said before, Side Show was a special piece of theater, that meant a lot to me and many others. And this reunion, and the duet show a week earlier, brought a lot of the magic from the show back to life. Though brief, hearing that beautiful score, live again, was glorious, no question about it.
Overall, 54 Below is one magical place. You get to relive the beauty of shows the world missed, see incredible talent right in front of your face, eat really yummy food (
Nutella truffles = heaven), and feel like a classy and fancy individual for a night (or two!). It is definitely the cool kid clubhouse that I always wanted to be at, and now that I’ve been, I never want to leave. Finally, if anything about the Side Show: Add Attractions show sounds cool, guess what? You’ll be able to own it, in album form, very soon through Broadway Records. And trust me, based on experiencing the show first hand, you’re gonna want to own it.
To end this Theater Thursday post, here is one of my other personal highlights of the evening:
I got a super fancy, Ryan Silverman filled selfie! He’s way too cool and suave of a dude for me (or my bangs) to handle. Thanks, Ryan! Good luck with all your theatrical adventures. So, are you ever thinking of going to 54 Below? What show are you dreaming of seeing there? Comment below with your theater fan thoughts!