Broadway alum debuts first mainstage musical as JMU faculty director

jmuBroadway alum Jacob Brent debuts his first mainstage musical as faculty director in the James Madison University School of Theatre and Dance’s production of Side Show

Featuring a cast of 34 theatre, music and musical theatre students, Side Show takes place Tuesday-Friday, Feb. 25-28, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are $22-$23.

For tickets, visit www.jmuforbescenter.com or call the Forbes Center Box Office at 540-568-7000.

Side Show follows the real-life story of conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton and the English entertainers’ search for love and acceptance amidst exploitation and fame in the 1930s’ side show, vaudeville and Hollywood communities. With book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger (who also wrote the music for Dreamgirls), Side Show opened on Broadway in 1997 and was nominated for four Tony Awards.

This 2014 Broadway musical revival features a rich, melodic score and nearly a dozen new songs like “Stuck with You” and “Ready to Play” in addition to the popular “I Will Never Leave You” and “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” from the original production.

“The music is amazing, well-constructed, and speaks to the message of the show,” Brent said. “’Who will love me as I am?’ is an overarching message in Side Show that not only asks the question, but dares somebody to step up and love the sisters who were literally attached at the hip.”

Senior musical theatre majors Meghan Greene and Kathleen Halverson play Violet and Daisy, respectively, in their first lead roles at JMU.

Brent, who is best known for his role as Mr. Mistoffelees in the Broadway, London and video productions of Cats, directed the sold-out Shakespeare musical Twelfth Night in the Forbes Center Studio Theatre in 2019, and choreographed the dance numbers for this joint production with the School of Music that features live orchestra conducted by Dr. David Stringham with musical direction by Dr. W. Bryce Hayes.

Rounding out the artistic staff are JMU students Skyler James and Lynnsey Kwaak (dramaturgs), Chad Gilliam (stage manager), Atticus Jones (lighting design) and MaryKathryn Todd (costume design), JMU faculty/staff members Lirit Olyan (costume design) and Tom Carr (sound design and engineering), guest scenic designer Dante Olivia Smith, guest vocal and dance arranger David Chase, and guest orchestrator Harold Wheeler.


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