Bright Star BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • VULTURE

  • HR

  • DEADLINE

Opening Night:
March 24, 2016
Closing:
June 26, 2016

Theater: Cort Theatre / 138 West 48th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Featuring a score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, "Bright Star" is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and travels between 1945 and 1923. Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal. Together they discover a powerful secret that alters their lives.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Bright Star

    ‘Bright Star’ Beams Nostalgia Underscored by Fiddles and Banjos

    Charles Isherwood

    March 24, 2016: Bluegrass on Broadway? Yes sirree. The warming sounds of banjos, fiddles and even an accordion are filling the Cort Theater, where the musical “Bright Star” opened on Thursday, bringing a fresh breeze from the South to the spring theater season. Perhaps more surprising is the source of the songs that give a heady lift to this nostalgia-tinged show, a romantic tale set in North Carolina in the 1920s and the 1940s. The authors are Steve Martin, better known as a comic, actor and occasional novelist, and Edie Brickell, who rose to pop-chart fame some time ago. (They collaborated on the music and the story, with Mr. Martin providing the book and Ms. Brickell the lyrics.) It’s not just the unusual flavor of its music that makes “Bright Star” something of an outlier on Broadway. The musical is gentle-spirited, not gaudy, and moves with an easygoing grace where others prance and strut. And it tells a sentiment-spritzed story — of lives torn apart and made whole again — that you might be more likely to encounter in black and white, flickering from your flat-screen on Turner Classic Movies.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Bright Star

    'Bright Star' Theater review

    Adam Feldman

    March 24, 2016: "If you knew my story, you’d have a good story to tell,” sings Alice (Carmen Cusack) in the introductory number of "Bright Star." But would you know how to tell it? That’s where Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, cowriters of this gawky tall tale, fall short. The musical toggles between the 1940s, when Alice is the tough-minded editor of a Southern literary journal, and the 1920s, when she’s a coltish teenager with her heart set on Jimmy Ray (a solid Paul Alexander Nolan), the son of their small town’s huffy mayor (Michael Mulheren). The stories in these time lines eventually meet as show trudges inexorably toward a second-act twist that is at once preposterous and head-smackingly predictable.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Bright Star

    Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s 'Bright Star'

    Jesse Green

    March 24, 2016: At some point between its San Diego premiere in September 2014 and its pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center earlier this winter, the musical "Bright Star," which bows at the Cort tonight, acquired a new opening number. Many shows do; it’s been almost a rite of passage since Jerome Robbins rescued "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" by having Stephen Sondheim write a new song to show the audience, right from the start, what to expect. (The result: “Comedy Tonight.”) Since then, Robbins’s fix, specific to that occasion, has become a nearly inflexible rule, and so "Bright Star" now opens with an establishing song called “If You Knew My Story.” It’s super-catchy, and Carmen Cusack, whose role in the proceedings we do not yet comprehend, sings the hell out of it. But unfortunately it does its “show the audience what to expect” job too well. With banal, self-cancelling, upbeat lyrics like “If you knew my story you’d have a good story to tell,” it mostly shows us that we are going to have, in Bright Star, a banal, self-cancelling, upbeat musical, the kind that wants to demonstrate a lot of heart without actually having one.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Bright Star

    Walter Bobbie directs this original bluegrass musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, about two Southerners in the 1940s whose lives are more intertwined than they know

    David Rooney

    March 24, 2016: A key inspiration for Bright Star was a real-life story from 1902, but the plot contrivances woven around that incident — a lost infant, an encounter many years later between strangers unaware of their deep connection, a conveniently timed discovery and a rapturous happy ending, complete with matching betrothals — are so fanciful that only Shakespeare could have gotten away with them. Still, there's a disarming sweetness and sincerity to this folksy Americana bluegrass musical, created by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, which makes the tuneful melodrama a pleasurable experience. It also helps that talented lead Carmen Cusack brings such integrity and warmth to her performance. That Martin is a man of many accomplishments is no secret. Since blossoming from absurdist standup into screen work in 1979 with The Jerk, which he also co-wrote, he has juggled various sidelines with his acting and screenwriting — as a playwright, novelist, art collector and musician. A banjo player since his teens, he made the instrument a regular part of his early comedy gigs. He won a Grammy in 2010 for his first bluegrass album, and has since released two rootsy collaboration albums with alt-rock singer-songwriter and fellow Texan Brickell, which led to this musical.

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  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF Bright Star

    Steve Martin & Edie Brickell’s ‘Bright Star’ Countrifies Broadway Corn

    Jeremy Gerard

    March 24, 2016: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell collaborated on two wonderful banjo-and-whimsy fueled albums (the first, "Love Has Come For You," won a Grammy in 2013 for best American roots song). Fans of Martin’s wide-ranging gifts as comedian, author, movie star, art collector, playwright (count me in) have seen his avocation as expert picker blossom with the singer-songwriter Brickell. Their work is suffused with an irresistible chemistry of longing and optimism and even a kind of countrified mysticism that divines hope in sorrowful corners of the soul. So my advice is to spend an evening with "Love Has Come For You" and the new album, "So Familiar," and skip "Bright Star," the unfortunate musical they have brought to the Cort Theatre by way of a tryout last year at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre. If you can recall the take-no-prisoners lunacy of Martin’s play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," you may be doubly disappointed by this earnest but soggy mess.

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