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Theater Review: "Bright Star:

Theater Review: "Bright Star"


"The sun is gonna shine again', or so goes the song that opens the second act of the new musical Bright Star. In a Broadway landscape dominated by jukebox musicals and endless adaptations of popular movies, it's original musicals like this one that offer hope that maybe the sun will shine again. Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the musical takes place in the South in the 1920s and 1940s, and follows Alice Murphy, the editor of a literary journal, deftly played by Carmen Cusack. With music by Martin and lyrics by Brickell, the bluegrass score sounds truly like nothing else currently on Broadway.



The score consists of sweeping ballads and infectious dance numbers, with standout songs being "I Had a Vision" and "Another Round", both from the second act, which is the better of the two. The plot goes to some dark places, but the ultimate message is one of optimism. This is a musical that is much more interested in the  "bright star" of the title than the dark night around it.

Cusack is wonderful as Alice, and making her Broadway debut with what is unquestionably a Tony-worthy performance The rest of the cast, including AJ Shively, Paul Alexander Nolan, and Emily Padget, is also quite strong. The music is played gorgeously by the onstage band. Director Walter Bobbie's staging makes impressive use of the rather small stage at the Cort Theatre. On the negative side, some of characterizations are unfortunately lacking. The changes between Alice in the '20s and in the '40s could be more pronounced to add to the audience's emotional investment in the outcome of the story.

Based on their Grammy-winning 2014 collaboration Love Has Come For You, Martin and Brickell have crafted a musical is expressive, full of heart, and downright fun. Since it does not have big name stars or a recognizable title, Bright Star will most likely not be a winner at the box office, but that's a shame because it is among the best new musicals to hit the Broadway stage in the past several years.


Bright Star opens March 24 at the Cort Theatre

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