Rosebud Theatre - Bright Star (Review)
Directed by Morris Ertman
Review Submitted by Sue Methuen
What a privilege to be at Rosebud Theatre on the opening night and Canadian premiere of Broadway’s musical Bright Star, an uplifting story by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell! Passion, courage, heart-break, betrayal, remorse, hope, forgiveness, redemption and love – it has it all.
Set in North Carolina in 1945, the play begins with Billy Cane (Felix LeBlanc) returning home from WWII to find there has been a death in the family and his childhood friend Margo Crawford (Anna Dalgleish) has blossomed into a pretty young woman. With a passion for writing and the encouragement of Margo, he sets off to Asheville with the hope that his story will be read by the right people and be published in a prestigious literary magazine. To that end, and after getting past her bulldog assistants, Billy meets Alice Murphy (Alixandra Cowman) a no-nonsense literary editor. She reluctantly agrees to read his work.
We soon discover why Alice has such a hard exterior. We are taken back to 1923, to a time when she is a fun-seeking young woman, flirting with her heart’s desire, Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Travis Friesen), the mayor’s son. The story of their romance and opposition from family members takes us from the hope of a young love to tragedy and eventually to optimism.
Travelling back and forth between the 1940’s and 1920’s provides further insights into how each of the main character’s stories intertwine over time. And when those stories come together, magic happens and the audience is left feeling the complete joy of it.
The cast is wonderful in their portrayal of their character(s). The songs performed enhance the story with more emotion than could be conveyed by simply speaking lines. My favorite was Jimmy Ray’s incredible solo when he sings about his heartbreak with such passion and fury at his father’s actions.
Director Morris Ertman is to be congratulated for putting together a show that carries the audience through the emotional highs and lows of this heartwarming story. The set is simple yet provides the perfect background for the various locations and time periods. Transition between sets and years is smooth and feels like it’s part of the storyline.
Music is an integral part of the play, sitting center stage throughout the performance. Music Director, Bill Hamm, provides the perfect atmosphere for the American south with fiddles and banjos enhancing each stage of the storyline.
Costumes, hair and makeup transform the performers into the different time periods and enhance the various personalities. Alice’s costume transitions between time periods is well done ensuring the continuity of her character. My husband and I both loved this amazingly heartwarming play and highly recommend it. Bright Star runs from March 29 to May 25, 2019 at Rosebud Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at www.rosebudtheatre.com.
Synopsis: In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, literary editor Alice Murphy meets aspiring writer Billy Cane, a young soldier back from WWII. They form a unique connection which sets Alice on a journey into the bittersweet tapestry of her past. Could this be her long-lost son? A bluegrass musical written and composed by comedian Steve Martin, and singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, Bright Star is an epic story of love lost and love reborn. Its unforgettable music will ignite your heart.
Rosebud Theatre is Alberta’s premier live theatre destination in the Canadian badlands. It is famous for its delicious buffet dinner with live musical entertainment and outstanding plays.