Looking for a unique Broadway experience with a breath of fresh air from the hip hop and heaviness of the past season? Somewhat of a hybrid between a feel good time and a thought provoking evening? A show that makes you say “Huh, I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Well, look no further, because Steve Martin and Evie Brickell’s Bright Star is most certainly the show for you.
The time is 1920-1940 in sugar sweet North Carolina where the heat is hot and the actors are hotter. The heart of Bright Star’s story is that of the love persuasion that spans for 20 years between Alice Murphy (Cusak) and Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Nolan). At the top of show, we meet Billy Cane (Shivley) who just came home from war and wants to be a writer. That dream takes him to Asheville, where he meets Alice Murphey and the news he receives from her will change his life forever.
Carmen Cusak was simply radiant in her Broadway debut. Her portrayal of Alice Murphy was beautifully organic and gave so much dimension to a simple story. Paul Alexander Nolan was nothing short of energized sex appeal, pushing forward the story with him as he danced along. A.J. Shivley was the naïve Southern boy that pulled at our heartstrings and laced the piece all together.
At the shows end, Walter Bobbie and Josh Rhode’s staging and dancing floods your mind and you can’t help but gush over the nuances. It filled so much air and added excitement, almost as if it were a written narrative within itself. One particular stand out scene was a flashback in which the cast danced the whole vignette in reverse. Eugene Lee’s set concept perfectly mirrors the spirit of the bluegrass music, even providing an epicenter for the band: the wooden cottage that sweeps constantly across the stage as if it were a character as well.
So toe tap on down to the Cort Theatre and be ready to get swept away by the powers of love, loss and bluegrass music!
Review By: Brittany Goodwin
Photos By: Joan Marcus