Henry Krieger and Bill Russell, Side Show, “I Will Never Leave You”
Conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (1908-1969) were among the most popular vaudeville attractions in 1930s America. The musical that depicted them, Side Show, presented two of the most difficult roles in modern musical theater; the actresses playing the twins had somehow to give the illusion in performance that they were not only identical but, in fact, physically conjoined. The show’s creators, Henry Krieger and Bill Russell, presented Daisy and Violet as two very contrasting young women: the former is ambitious and intent on a glamorous, exciting life, while the latter wants only the joys that marriage and family can offer. Side Show (in which Norm Lewis created the role of Jake, the twins’ sympathetic colleague) premiered in 1997 on Broadway, where it received a new production 17 years later.
The show’s highly varied score has several duets that reveal how tied to each other the twins are, for better or for worse. “I Will Never Leave You,” sung at the end of the show, comes after dizzying professional success and also many scars in their private lives. With soaring lines that provide audiences with a moment of genuine emotional release, Daisy and Violet conclude that ultimately all they will ever have to lean on is each other.