CENTERVILLE, Utah, Nov. 28, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The bluegrass baby of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell has bounced to life on Centerville’s CenterPoint Legacy Theatre stage.
“Bright Star,” which debut on Broadway in 2016, tells the story of a feisty career woman Alice Murphy, who in 1946 is the the editor The Asheville Southern Journal. And in scenes set years earlier, she is an equally feisty teenager, in love and ready to fight for what she wants.
But before the musical’s satisfying ending, Alice will suffer heartbreaking losses, frustrating roadblocks to a personal goal, and thrilling and unexpected victories.
All while remaining smart, funny and buoyant, of course.
The show is double cast, as usual for the CenterPoint. The Monday/Wednesday/Friday shows star Anya Wilson as Alice. Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday shows star Becca Burdick as Alice. This review is based on a performance by the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday cast.
Burdick was in top form, both as adult and teenage Alice, with age difference reflected in costumes, hairstyle, voice and manner. Alice at 16 is freer, more adventurous and playful, and has not yet learned to guard her emotions, especially from new boyfriend Jimmy and both their disapproving fathers.
Alice in her late 30s wears her flowing hair tightly wrapped, and favors conservative dress. But adult Alice still takes a spirited interest in her quirky employees, Daryl and Lucy, and in a young wannabe writer, Billy, who initially exhibits more pluck than actual literary talent.
Burdick is fun to watch throughout, and has a strong and fluid voice featured in most of the shows nearly two dozen songs.
Jimmy, played by Jordan Strong in the reviewed performance, has a great voice as well, a relaxed charm, and acting skills that allow him to believably age two decades, as the script demands.
Alice and Jimmy’s disapproving fathers are played in the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday cast by Chuck Gilmore and Matthew Hewitt, who have good singing voices and acting skills strong enough to rattle the composure any former willful child who may find herself (or himself) seated in the CenterPoint auditorium.
Journal staffers Daryl and Lucy (Jared Daley and Kat Tietjen in this cast) add personality to their supporting characters, who provide comic relief. And Billy (Drew Dunshee in this cast) takes full advantage of his own storyline, which features adoring childhood friend Margo (Olympia Pead).
Costumes, designed by Laurie Oswald, help establish the time, place and character traits of the wearer. Sets, by Truxton Moulton, are simple and elegant, yet flexible, and seem almost to dance when moved around the stage by ensemble members setting the next scene.
One thing this production doesn’t have is a live musicians on stage, a feature on the Broadway and touring productions which may be cost prohibitive for community theaters. The recorded bluegrass music still adds a specific Blue Ridge Mountain character and a flow to the production. A well used ensemble casts uses dance and other choreography to fill out the stage, and add back any missing liveliness to the party.
Director Maurie Tarbox, along with her designers and actors, has brought everything together in a moving, evocative production, well worth seeing by anyone who can tolerate some theatrical sorrow, along with hope and healing, on the way to a happy ending.
This show is well worth seeing, and highly recommended. For ticket and theater information, click here.