Side Show is a stunning story of sisterhood based on the remarkable real-life story of Daisy and Violet Hilton- identical ‘Siamese twins’ who were joined at the hip. The sisters grew up touring America in a travelling ‘freak show’. But when their spectacular talent and charm was discovered, they became a national sensation and the highest-paid stars of 1930s vaudeville.
We caught up with Hayes’ twins Kerrie Anne Greenland & Laura Bunting to chat about this super special double role!
What was the audition process like for being cast as twins? You auditioned together, but had never met before?
Kerrie: I was between the Manila and Singapore seasons of Les Mis when Sideshow held the first audition day to find my twin. Laura was actually the first person to come in, and even though we hadn’t properly met before there was an instant connection between the two of us. It was emotional singing “Who Will Love Me As I Am” so close to someone for the first time, and it still is!
Laura: When I first got to go in for Daisy it was when Kerrie was briefly back on a break from Les Mis. Kerrie had already been cast as Violet but I had no idea who had been cast so I was very excited to find out who it could be! I think I happened to be the very first Daisy to sing with Kerrie and I was super-duper nervous-excited. As soon as I laid eyes on Kerrie, I fell in love with her warmth and generosity in the room. And I was also pretty stoked we were a similar height, pale skinned and sporting brunette locks – it had to have helped 😉
What kind of rehearsing are you doing now to ensure your Twinning is seamless?
Kerrie: Laura and I practise through most of our break times to ensure we can easily read each others movement and to rehearse the dances. We did actually go to a café once (still conjoined) to see what it was like to get out in the world together.
Laura: The physicality of being conjoined has no doubt been the biggest challenge and will continue to be during our run. It’s an unusual way to hold the body and turn the head so we’ve barely de-conjoined through the whole process which has been the key to mastering it. Our swanky magnetic spanks are our insurance policy.
What is it like starring in something where you are quite literally sharing the leading role? Is it more exciting? Less pressure? More pressure?
Kerrie: It’s fascinating! I think there is more pressure to be certain that we NEVER separate, and to be 100% sure of every movement and intention to ensure they match or contrast, also there is no room for making a different choice in terms of rhythm, you gotta sing exactly what’s written! But that also kinda makes it feel like less pressure because 80% of what we sing is together.
Laura: I definitely find it more exciting – you share every single moment onstage with someone RIGHT there; she hears every single burp even when I desperately try to hide it (I’m burping way more due to the twist of my body/organs!). I can’t hide when I start shaking from laughter (generally when I catch Hannah Waterman’s glinting eye). Being a team it can feel like less pressure, but on the other hand you don’t want to stuff anything up for your other half so it kind of evens out. I reckon I’ll still get the same amount of butterflies going out each night as I would by myself.
What do you think it would be like to be a conjoined twin in real life? How difficult do you think it would be if you both had different ambitions? How would you manage it?
Kerrie: I think they are so brave, especially those who chose to exhibit themselves in any way. It’s hard to comprehend what choices you as an individual would do if you were conjoined because you have lived a life alone, conjoined twins have been like that from birth, it would be no different then having two legs, like most people have. The Hilton twins speak in their autobiography of having an unspoken understanding that they will not quarrel, but do each others wishes one at a time.
Laura: Having someone always there stuck to you would be testing at the best of times, but to survive you’d have to really really love and accept each other. Plus you wouldn’t know any different. Conjoined twins have lots of differences; personalities, emotions, they see the same things but would observe and filter it differently. Life ambitions make for an interesting challenge, this is where the real compromise has to happen and you’d end up having to have a career or have goals that suited you both.
And finally, can you think of an example of a musical and how different it would be with the lead being a conjoined twin? I guess Eponine wouldn’t be ‘on her own’ and Elphaba would lament that she’s ‘not that girls’…?
Kerrie: Lol. Jean Valjean would be funny hey? I’ve been sitting here, thinking about it for about 10 minutes, and honestly there is no story that could sustain a lead character being a Siamese twin that I can think of. This story is so unique, especially considering it is true and it really does make you appreciate what makes you different and those who cannot hide what makes them different.
Laura: I see what you did there! Imagine 2 Mary Poppins’s…With four legs, arms and and eyes, she’d be even more efficient. But who would hold the umbrella when they flew? Or would they each have one?
Side Show is now playing at the Hayes Theatre until the 16th October. For more information and to book visit www.hayestheatre.com.au