Review: ‘Bright Star’ lights up PTC stage

Carmen Cusack in Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s “Bright Star.” Photo by Craig Schwartz.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 15 (Gephardt Daily) — It’s a rare musical that can make you both stifle a laugh so you don’t miss the next subtle joke and struggle to to keep your happy feet from stomping to the beat of raucous banjo music.

But then, “Bright Star” is not your typical musical. The show, crafted by comic Steve Martin and singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, is open in its regional premiere on the Pioneer Theatre Company stage, and will continue to play there through Jan. 27.

“Bright Star” tells the tale of a Southern country girl turned sophisticated newspaper editor, who has a personal story of love and loss. Alice narrates her own story in two time periods, 1944 with flashbacks to 1923.

Alice is played by Carmen Cusack, who originated the role on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony as a result. Her voice is rich and soulful, jubilant and mournful. She connects viscerally with every lyric she sings. Cusack’s voice and interpretations are reason enough to buy a ticket. To hear a sample of her voice, click here.

Cusack is surrounded by a strong and talented supporting cast. There’s not a weak link in the chain. Standouts include Patrick Cummings, playing Jimmy Ray in two time periods, A.J. Shively, who melts the audiences’ heart as well as Alice’s, and Kaitlyn Davidson and Jeff Blumenkrantz, who are a hoot as two cynical journalists, and provide some laughs right when they are needed.

Still, it’s Alice’s story and Cuscack’s powerhouse voice that moves the action forward.

Also adding to the magic is a dance ensemble, often working in the shadows, that seems to embody every subtle emotion the characters are feeling.

And if that’s not enough, add a live band, on stage, in an open-shack set piece that allows the musicians to move from center state, to right or left, as the action demands.

“Bright Star” is an amazing show. Don’t miss it. For more information or for tickets to the musical, click here.


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