Broadway created an outstanding adaptation for “Bright Star” musical

Although actor Steve Martin and singer-songwriter Edie Brickell aren’t usually associated with Broadway, their entree into musical theater has been met with high praise from audiences and critics alike. The dream team recently collaborated on the show Bright Star, which opens at New York’s Cort Theatre on March 24.

The show, which is being directed by industry veteran and Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie, is a new, original musical set in the American South between the 1920s and 1940s. Although the tale is fictional, it was based on true events, and does an excellent job evoking a feeling of authenticity.

Bright Star tells the story of Alice Murphy, a literary editor portrayed by Carmen Cusack. Murphy is no demure southern belle – with an eye for good writing and a no-nonsense attitude, her comments would bring esteemed authors to tears. The tale vacillates between real time and flashbacks to give a thorough sense of how Murphy’s past made her the woman she is when the audience makes her acquaintance.

The talented cast, which includes actors Stephen Lee Anderson, Tony Roach, Emily Padgett and Jeff Blumenkrantz, guides the captivating story through the enchanting music of Martin and Brickell. Bright Star’s melodies reflect the era and location in which it’s set, so banjos, violins and guitars serve as the orchestra’s cornerstone instruments. The score alone conjures up images of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the show takes place.

Critics have hailed Bright Star’s musical offerings, creative team and unique storyline for being a breath of fresh air. The musical premiered in San Francisco to positive reviews before being picked up for Broadway.

“‘Pretty’ is a word that comes to mind all through an encounter with Bright Star, the, well, very pretty new musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Everything about the show is pretty: pretty songs, pretty voices, pretty setting, pretty people.” – The Washington Post

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 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.” – The New York Times

Pre- and postwar eras are linked by some 20 numbers inspired by Brickell and Martin’s Grammy-winning “Love Has Come For You.” Urbanites with no ear for bluegrass may cry repetitiousness at the narrow instrumentation (banjo, guitar, piano and bass predominating). But if any playlist could win over roots-music skeptics it’d be this one, with lilting melodies, foot-stomping rhythms (nicely exploited at key moments by choreographer Josh Rhodes) and seamless integration of character, ballad, story and locale.” – Variety magazine