Bright Star, a musical drama by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell is Rosebud’s newest production. This show is split between two time periods, the mid 1920’s, and post-war 1940’s North Carolina. It features the contrasting love story of Alice Murphy and Jimmy Ray Dobbs in the past, and Billy Cane and Margo Crawford’s developing relationship in the present. Despite having darker undertones, this show’s comedic timing and lovable characters help to bring out a lighter side that will entertain you from start to finish. The company is made up of 14 incredibly talented performers, with only 3 not playing an instrument live on stage. This production also includes a crew of around 40 brilliant people. With a runtime of approximately 120 minutes, this is a show that will keep you immersed the whole way through.
The wonderful set creates a sense of familiarity and authenticity throughout the progression of the performance. With interchanging set pieces that subtly give the audience the time and place of the scene, you will never find yourself feeling lost or confused by the consistently changing time periods. This already spectacular setting is only added to by the brilliant artwork courtesy of scenic artist Cheryl Daugherty; while the set pieces themselves give you the surrounding buildings, it is the artwork that truly places you in the landscape of this show. In center stage are the musicians, and they are far from being intrusive as one might think, the area occupied by the musicians is used to portray space in an interesting way. The musicians are actually characters themselves, and add an interesting element not seen in many other theatres.
Characters in Bright Star are portrayed extremely well, there is no problem believing that these could be real people with real lives. The main character’s love stories feel full of life, the onstage chemistry between the performers allows you to get a full, in-depth sense of their true feelings for one another. Each character has a completely unique attitude and style to them, with no two characters having the same relationship with each other. These challenging roles look effortless as the actors and actresses continue to stay in their designated character throughout the entirety of the show, even whilst playing the instruments. They all have expertly perfected body language and facial expression to add to the overall mood of whatever scene is playing out before them. The writing of the roles is very nuanced, with no line added without a purpose. This leads to further engagement of the audience as we experience all the emotions of the characters through the language and tone that they use. The actors were also able to bring their own sense of life to each of the characters, so this production is truly unique in its experience. Most characters need to overcome their own obstacles, and they all deal with things in a different way, showing the diversity between each role.
As mentioned before, most of the performers in the show also play an instrument, and this addition helps keep the audience centered on the performance, few on-stage performers are not involved in the narrative. As for the music itself, the musical director Bill Hamm describes it as “Classic Folk,” and the storytelling ability of this folk music helps to move the story along with an energetic pace. All the songs have a traceable arc to them, which allows the progression of the story to move along smoothly throughout the musical, even when the dialogue stops. The heavy usage of string instruments reflects the setting of rural North Carolina in the 1900’s with a versatile charm. Each song comes with its own attitude and emotion, creating a realistic range of feeling through the entire performance. These musicians add to the spectacular vocal talents featured on stage, each filling the opera house with their captivating tones. Leads Travis Friesen, Alixandra Cowman, Anna Dalgleish, and Felix LeBlanc were all brilliantly cast and were truly able to demonstrate their powerful vocal capabilities.
This is a performance where everything was done to perfection. It is has something for people of any age and will keep you in excited anticipation through each conflict that the characters face. With the catchy tunes and beautiful performances, you will be wanting to get up and dance along with the cast. This is a show with substance, and you’ll be going through the emotional ride that each of the characters face. If you are interested in a performance with twists and turns that will engage you, I would highly recommend Bright Star. This show runs from March 29th to May 25th, and you can purchase your tickets at https://www.rosebudtheatre.com/shows/bright-star