Bright Star shines brightly at Rosebud Theatre
by Laureen F. Guenther
Bright Star, a musical written by comedian-musician Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, opened at Rosebud Theatre on March 29, directed by Morris Ertman with musical direction by Bill Hamm. Bright Star plays until May 25.
In the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1920s, a teenager named Alice (played by Alix Cowman) was in love with Jimmy Ray (Travis Friesen). When Alice became pregnant, she was forced to release her baby son for adoption.
By 1945, Alice has become the tough-as-nails editor of the Asheville Southern Journal. A young soldier named Billy (Felix LeBlanc), just back from World War II, comes to the newspaper offices to meet her. He’s an aspiring writer and wants the Journal to publish his stories.
Alice recognizes his potential and she begins to invest in developing his writing talent. Then Alice and Billy are astonished to discover they have much more in common than a love of the written word.
Bright Star is the story of their reconnection. But that’s not all it is. It is also a love story. And it’s a musical.
Alice and Billy and all of Bright Star’s characters tell their multi-faceted stories through well-crafted dialogue and rich, emotional music, in an almost-but-not-quite bluegrass style. Each actor is also a singer, and most are also instrumentalists – playing piano, accordion, autoharp, guitar, cello, fiddle, viola, bass, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, drum, percussion and harmonica on a square in the center of the stage. I enjoyed seeing how smoothly the performers moved from singing and acting to playing instruments, and back again.
Their skill is impressive and the story they’re telling is timeless. Though the story began nearly a century ago, its themes are just as relevant in 2019.
Courageous, uncertain parents still try to do what’s best for their children, and they don’t always get it right.
Hopeful, broken-hearted young people still strive to overcome painful backgrounds, and try hard to achieve something meaningful for the next generation.
And people of all ages — parents, children, sweethearts and friends – can still reconcile and have relationships restored when they admit their mistakes.
If you love a heart-breaking, happy-ending story; if you love soaring, heartfelt music in rich, warm voices; if you understand loss and restoration, heartbreak and healing, surrender and adoption and reconciliation, I think you’ll enjoy Bright Star as much as I did.
It’s an inspiring, challenging, heart-wrenching and hope-giving show.
For tickets and more information, go to rosebudtheatre.com or call 1-800-267-7553.