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“Is it better to hope, or to know?” – BRIGHT STAR at the Old Globe Theatre


“Is it better to hope, or to know?”

BRIGHT STAR, a new American musical, keeps blowing audiences away with its worldwide premiere.

Article by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

An inspiring, very well-tailored piece is currently taking the stage at the Old Globe’s, Conrad Prebys Theatre Center in Balboa Park. Based on an original story, with music and book by Steve Martin; Lyrics and music by Edie Brickell, the production of Bright Star will take you away guided by the hand of Director Walter Bobbie.

Steve Martin explors different faces of artistry and shows audiences his musical side along with his writing abilities. Part of the music selection (featuring almost 20 new songs) is from Love Has Come for You, a 2013 bluegrass album featuring a 13 song collaboration of original songs by Steve Martin (music) and Edie Brickell (lyrics). Playing soundtrack to a story that is set in two different time periods 1923 and 1945. Billy Cane is coming home from WWII (A.J Shively) excited to see his parents and become a writer. He longs to be published in the region’s most respected magazine, The Asheville Southern Journal headed by Editor Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack). A serious yet sociable woman. Very passionate about literature and emerging talents she can -invest in-. Despite of her ‘filters’, front desk man Daryl Ames (Jeff Hiller), and blunt Lucy Grant (Kate Loprest).

During the songs ‘My Wonderful Career’ and ‘Way Back in the Day’ we are taken to Alice’s past in a wonderful transition as she changes onstage into a young, naïve but very outspoken southern girl, who is in love with Jimmy Rae Dobbs (Wayne Alan Wilcox) a wealthy young man, son of Mayor Josiah Dobbs (Wayne Duvall). Josiah has it all figured out for his son, inheriting the family business; the plans take an abrupt turn when Alice gets pregnant. Even though the couple is very much in love and wishing to marry, Mayor Dobbs takes matters into his own hands, cutting the love story short. His reasoning “I made things right”. Leaving the young lovers separated and in a mystery that takes almost a decade to solve… thanks to fate (and karma).

Bright Star is a musical theatre piece that will transport audiences to the traditional great white way. With a band playing onstage (Banjo Bennett Sullivan, Guitar Alec Berlin, Mandolin Dennis Caplinger, Violin Tiffany Sieker, Viola Travis Maril, Cello Erica Erenyi, Bass Michael Pearce. Conducted by Rob Berman who also plays the piano) moving, turning and spinning along with the set changes. Actions that boost the plot with rhythm as well as the choreographed numbers with the ensemble: Allison Briner, Max Chernin, Leah Horowitz, Joe Jung Ashley Robinson, Sarah Jane Shanks and Scott Wakefield.

Carmen Cusack (who is working on her first album this year) is a treat carrying the weight of the sad, unbelievable and at times very disappointing story. Literally she ‘more than carries the tune’.

The sepia colors in Eugene Lee’s Scenic Design paired with Jane Greenwood’s Costume Design, take you to the North Carolina Mountains. My favorite (pass me the Kleenex) songs of the show where: “Firmer Hand/Do Right”, “My Baby” and “Please, Don’t Take Him”. A wonderful show that illustrates how far greed, misunderstood traditions and not thinking straight can take people. Getting in the way of an organic process.

Also making this possible: Broadway powerhouses Josh Rhodes (Choreographer), Peter Asher (Musical Supervisor), Rob Berman (Musical Director, Vocal Arrangements), Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), August Eriksmoen (Orchestrator), Lee Wilkins (Associate Choreographer), Howie Cherpakov, CSA (Casting), and Anjee Nero (Stage Manager).

Bright Star will be playing until Sunday, November 2, 2014.

For more information click here.

Photo Credits: Wayne Alan Wilcox as Jimmy Ray Dobbs and Carmen Cusack as Alice Murphy in the world premiere of Bright Star, a new American musical with music by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, lyrics by Brickell, book by Martin, based on an original story by Martin and Brickell, and directed by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie, Photo by Joan Marcus.

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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