Bright Star OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • VARIETY

  • UT SAN DIEGO

Opening Night:
September 13, 2014
Closing:
November 2, 2014

Theater: The Old Globe Theater / 1363 Old Globe Way San Diego, CA 92101-1696

Synopsis: 

From award-winning screenwriter and playwright Steve Martin (Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Roxanne) and chart-topping singer-songwriter Edie Brickell comes a world premiere American musical inspired by their Grammy Award-winning collaboration “Love Has Come For You.” Bright Star features 25 new songs and tells a beguiling tale that unfolds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina between 1923 and 1945. 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. Tony Award-winning director Walter Bobbie (Broadway’s Chicago) makes his Globe debut with this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties, and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Bright Star

    Love, Loss and Local Color Make a Bluegrass Musical ‘Bright Star’ Is Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s New Show

    Charles Isherwood

    September 29, 2014: Darkness and light are blended in even proportions in Bright Star, a sepia-toned new musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell making its premiere at the Old Globe theater. The characters in this musically vibrant if overstuffed show, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina during two separate decades of the 20th century, endure hardship, heartache and almost melodramatic loss. But, as the title suggests, their eyes remain fixed not on the black canopy of night but on the beacons of hope that pierce it. A telling song from the second act reminds us that no matter how gray the future seems, the “sun is gonna shine again.” The shining achievement of the musical is its winsome country and bluegrass score, with music by Mr. Martin and Ms. Brickell, and lyrics by Ms. Brickell. The complicated plot, divided between two love stories that turn out to have an unusual connection, threatens to get a little too diffuse and unravel like a ball of yarn rolling off a knitter’s lap. But the songs — yearning ballads and square-dance romps rich with fiddle, piano and banjo, beautifully played by a nine-person band — provide a buoyancy that keeps the momentum from stalling.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Bright Star

    Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s ‘Bright Star’

    Bob Verini

    September 29, 2014: Yep, that’s the real Steve Martin collaborating with roots-music queen Edie Brickell on the Old Globe premiere Bright Star, but not the wild and crazy guy with an arrow through his head nor the sophisticated satirist of Shopgirl. Rather, it’s the relaxed banjo-picking talk show guest, fingers pluckin’ out a gentle, tuneful, uninflected folk fable of loss and longing. If too rarefied for Gotham’s embrace (as the somewhat similar Violet was), this lyrical tuner could find ready acceptance regionally. Either way the storytelling would benefit from higher stakes and greater guts. The plot centers on North Carolinian Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack in a well-deserved star turn), doyenne of a prestigious Southern journal just after WWII. Trussed up in Jane Greenwood’s Peck & Peck tailoring (seemingly inspired by old Celeste Holm movies), loveless Alice spews Eve Arden wisecracks at the likes of returning G.I. Billy Cane (A.J. Shively, earnestly likeable): He says “You must be Miss Murphy”; she says “I don’t have to be, but I am.” Billy’s Pepsodent toothiness belies his ambition to scale literary heights.

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  • THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE REVIEW OF Bright Star

    World-premiere Old Globe musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell moves with beauty and humor, but consistency can be an issue

    James Hebert

    September 29, 2014: In the Old Globe’s new musical Bright Star, a troubled small-town mayor may or may not be seeing ghosts. But you can bet the actor playing him is going to hear the word “Boo.” That’s no criticism of Wayne Duvall’s perfectly respectable performance in the role; the lusty rebuke he earns from the audience at the curtain call (or did on Saturday night, anyway) is purely a reflection of his character’s love-to-loath-him villainy. But that moment does say a little something about the tonal curiosities of this big-hearted and often charming world-premiere work from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, the bluegrass duo turned musical-theater team. (They might be famous for a few other things, too.)

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