On Friday, October 20, 2017 Los Angeles audiences were graced with the opening of a delightful new musical from the creative minds of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Direct from Broadway, “Bright Star” splits its narrative between two timelines: one taking place in in the early 1920s, while the other is set 22 years later.
Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack), a small town girl from Zebulon, North Carolina goes on to become a renowned editor for the Asheville Southern Journal. Little does she know that her life is about to be changed forever when a young WWII veteran (A.J. Shively) walks into her office with a fresh batch of new stories.
Cusack, who has been with the show since its inception at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre and garnered a Tony nomination for her performance on Broadway, makes a return to the role of Alice with such poise and heartwarming tenderness that one can’t help but be moved to tears by her performance. A.J. Shively, also reprising his role from Broadway, brings a charming quality to the role of Billy Cane; his powerful tenor voice sending the audience into a frenzy during the toe-tapping title song.
The Los Angeles cast includes several familiar faces from the Broadway production including Stephen Lee Anderson and Allison Briner-Dardenne as Alice’s loving parents, Patrick Cummings as Alice’s old flame, Jimmy Ray, Jeff Blumenkrantz as the sassy Daryl Ames, and Maddie Shea Baldwin as the tremendously delightful Margo. Also rounding out the talented cast are Jeff Austin as the sinister Mayor Dobbs, and David Atkinson as Billy’s frog fishin’ father, Daddy Cane.
Eugene Lee’s impressive scenic design features a simple wooden cabin that shifts across the stage throughout the show, setting the tone for each moment as well as housing the band. The true star of the show is the collaborative country/bluegrass score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Their Grammy-winning album “Love Has Come For You” serves as the basis for the musical, while Martin himself wrote the musical’s book. Though widely known as one of the world’s most legendary comedic actors, Martin has proven himself as an exceptional librettist.
“Bright Star” runs through November 19th at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, or online at centertheatregroup.org.
Written by: Travis Hayward