Broadway In Your Backyard

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Cultural Arts Playhouse debuts Long Island premiere of Side Show

“Come Look At The Freaks.” The opening number of Side Show features a cannibal, a three-legged man, a fortune teller, a human pin cushion, a bearded lady and more. (Photo source: Facebook)

Nestled among businesses and offices on Syosset’s Michael Drive is Cultural Arts Playhouse (CAP), a year-round performance venue that puts on the finest community theater around. The latest show to debut at the playhouse is the Long Island premiere of Side Show, a musical set in the 1930s and based on a true story, chronicling the lives of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, from their beginnings as a sideshow act in Texas to their successful vaudeville careers.

The show, which began on Broadway in 1997, is populated with talented members of the community. Sara Berger and Amanda Mac play the lead characters, who have been by each other’s side, literally, their entire lives. They shine as the duo struggling to find their place in the world.

Conjoined twins Daisy (Sarah Berger) and Violet (Amanda Mac) introduce themselves.

The twins’ love interests are played by Nick Masson and Niko Touros, who was most recently seen as Usnavi in CAP’s fabulous production of In The Heights this past summer.

Filling out the gifted cast are Jahlil Burke, Jerry Callahan, Taneisha Corbin, Jay Braiman, Jared Grossman, Jennifer Merkel, Mike Staub, Katie Johnson, Jocelyn Roddie, Adriana M. Scheer, Warren Tierney, James Walsh, Eliana Kayelle, Ariel Colón, Alex Dash, Alex Mecklosky, Janelle Primm and Diane Marmann.

Director Tony Frangiapane, choreographer Jennifer Amy, stage manager Diane Marmann, musical director Richard Giordano, costume designers Carmella Newman and Debbie Parker, set designer Thomas McKenna, wig designer Alyssa Caracciolo and specialty makeup artist Rayna Weil all worked together to present this cult classic to local theater lovers.

James Walsh (Ray), Sarah Berger (Daisy), Amanda Mac (Violet) and Niko Touros (Buddy) perform “Stuck With You” in the second act.

Coming up next on the mainstage at CAP is Ghost: The Musical, beginning March 11, followed by Sister Act: The Musical, opening April 7, and Anything Goes, opening May 19.
CAP also has an exciting season of children’s theater coming up, starting with The Little Mermaid in February through March 5.

In addition to musical theater performances, CAP is an acting academy for students in Grade 1 through 12. Founded in 1995, the playhouse has held classes for budding actors and singers.


Jahlil Burke plays Jake, a friend to Daisy and Violet who only wants the best for them.

Bruce Grossman, CAP owner, said, “There is no better activity than theater to benefit a child and teen in all aspects of their life. We work on confidence, social skills and focus through the art of theater.”

Residents are fortunate have such an accessible venue in their own backyard. The productions are a fun way to spend a weekend evening and an easy way to support local arts.

Tickets to Side Show are $25 ($22 for seniors). The musical runs Fridays (8 p.m.), Saturdays (8 p.m.) and Sundays (3 p.m.) through March 5.

Cultural Arts Playhouse is located at 170 Michael Dr., Syosset. For tickets and more information, visit www.culturalartsplayhouse.com or call 516-694-3330.

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