Bright Star

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An unqualified rave for this blue-grass musical by polymath Steve Martin and singer-songwriter Edie Brickell (Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars). Several intertwined stories set in rural America in 1923 tell a familiar story of youthful ambition, young love and how these are nearly thwarted. But when told by a team that includes director Walter Bobbie (Chicago), choreographer Josh Rhodes (Company), music director Rob Berman (City Center Encores), and an attractive cast of lesser known names, it is magical. Carmen Cusack heads the cast as Alice Murphy, a publisher with her own story. This is not a show with songs, it is almost opera-like. I was in heaven. Ellen, as usual, predicted the surprise ending.

Ken Roman

 

 

 

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Posted: 07/18/13 by Ben Rosen

Sunday evening Donna and I hied on over to Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater to see the last performance of “Bright Star,” a bluegrass musical created by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Because of sloppy research on my part, I thought we were actually going to see Steve Martin perform in the show. Indeed, there even was a banjo – his signature instrument — on the stage just as the performance began. Alas, Steve was not to be, at least not in person, but he was omnipresent as bookwriter and co-composer (with Edie Brickell).

Presented in concert version, the performers were estimable and enthusiastic, particularly Carmen Cusack, the lead. She had the rare ability to make it difficult for me to keep my eyes off her, so beguiling was her acting ability – even in a concert presentation. She has a number of leading roles in her résumé, but none yet on Broadway.

I had never heard of Edie Brickell before, but she’s apparently a force in bluegrass and folk, and performs regularly in concert with Steve Martin (and also is the wife of Paul Simon). The most remarkable thing about her is what I learned on her website – since April 13, 2012, she has written a new song every day. Every day. Weekends, holidays, every day. So I sat down and started listening to a bunch of them; they’ll all available on the site. My conclusion about writing a song a day? Not a good idea.

After my initial frustration in not seeing Steve Martin perform, and additional disappointment in discovering that I Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 12.26.41 PMwould be in for well over two hours of watching a bluegrass musical, the show wasn’t bad. In fact, I enjoyed it. As did the audience. Maybe my favorite bluegrass musical of the year. True, it’s a long way from, say, Broadway, but could end up, after prudent book tightening and several song omissions as an enjoyable fully-staged production.

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One Response to “Bright Star”

  1. Thanks Ken, right on the money. Just saw a Sunday Matinee and very much enjoyed it. Carmen Cusack is sensational…….and your secret is safe with me.

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