Every now and then comes along a Broadway show that takes me by surprise. I go in to the theater wondering how I will feel when I leave and whether I will recommend it to anyone. Will it sweep me up and transport me into another world where I can escape my daily routine and take me to that faraway dreamy place I hope to land whenever I take in a show?
My most recent Broadway experience, Bright Star, did all this but I must admit that it took time to get me there. Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the show is a bit of a sureal piece of fiction based on reality. It has an explosive plot twist at the end of act one that left me reeling in my seat. Prior to that moment, I was ambivalent about the show and where it was taking me. But that one moment changed everything and during act 2, I was completely riveted.
And then I started to realize the power of what was going on before me….the music, the dancing, the talent on that stage. With the book written by Steve Martin and the songs written by Edie Brickell, there are banjos, guitars and violins playing the score, something I may not have been used to at first but I realized at the end that it all worked really, really well and set out to do what it meant to – tell a powerful story that left me and every audience member shedding a tear…or two…of three.
Set in North Carolina between the years of 1923 and 1945-1946, the show revolves around the experiences of two characters, both writers: Carmen Cusack’s Alice Murphy, an editor of a fictionalized magazine, the Asheville Southern Journal, and Billy Cane played by A.J. Shively, a young man back from World War II who dreams of having his stories published in her periodical. Through a series of flashbacks, their lives pivot and come crashing into each other’s and the results are electrifying. Along the way, we are treated with beautiful songs (Brickell’s lyrics are truly beautiful).
The music is played by an onstage bluegrass band conducted by Rob Berman, which brings the show even closer to our hearts with its interactive, up close and personal feel. The cast is also perfection, which aids the play at certain moments but cheers to Cusack who is marvelous – there is no other way to describe her. The set, designed by Eugene Lee, is also pretty spectacular, showcasing a wood cabin on wheels. The result puts audience members directly into the backwoods of North Carolina, a place I must admit I’ve never been to, despite the fact that I’m a Georgia girl.
If you want to see the show, please use this discount code when you book: BSBLOG303. Tickets are as low as $39 for performances thru June 12th here.
Disclosure: I was at the show as press. However, all opinions are my own.