Broadway Global spotlights the newest Broadway musical on Broadway Bright Star, with Music by Steve Martin, Book by Steve Martin and Story by Steve Martin. Let us not forget Music, Lyrics and Story by Edie Brickell. The story is compelling boy and girl fall in love have a baby and baby is taken away to give the young lovers hope for life. The Country Style music for this Broadway musical shines with outstanding musicians but the music never seems to take you to the point of ecstasy in story telling or dynamics in the songs. Broadway has certainly embraced almost every ethnicity and culture in casting this year with shows like The Kind and I, Allegiance, The Color Purple, and Fiddler On The Roof but Steve Martin’s Bright Star is missing non traditional casting for at least one of the ensemble. The production brought audiences to their feet with a standing ovation, so don’t let the truth of this review or the working elements of this production take you away from purchasing a ticket to a musical that is filling seats. Bright Star has plenty of happy social media post due to an iconic Film Star’s name Steve Martin attached to this production. Did we mention that Steve Martin is involved in Bright Star? It makes one wonder, how many amazing new works are really out there, if only they had been a Film first, or had a star’s name attached as a creator, or the support of a wider entertainment industry? Please note spoiler alerts are mentioned to a point, so if you want to witness this musical first for its’ surprises, just post this article on Facebook to ruin it for those theatre friends you want to piss off.
The highlight other than the live musicians, who are magically moved around the stage in a house like structure, would be Jeff Blumenkrantz (Daryl Ames) as an over the top gay man working in a publishing office in the 1920’s. But if we can embrace and accept his obvious gay character in the 1920’s, why cant we embrace at least one Black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian,.. Ensemble member? Would it throw off the story line of a white baby being given away to save the young couples life? No, If Les Miserables can cast a few black artists in leads, then the iconic Steve Martin can cast at least one other ethnicity in this Gilbert and Sullivan Country Western style musical, where everyone is somewhat related in its magical surprised ending. Spoiler Alert!
The cast are all on point, starting with Carmen Cusack (Alice Murphy) as the ingenue who falls in love with Paul Alexander Nolan (Jimmy). Carmen (Alice) gets pregnant and after having the baby taken away in her youth, becomes a publisher. Carmen’s voice ‘Broadway Country” works well for the piece. Her acting is superb for a Broadway debut. Paul Alexander Nolan (Jimmy Ray Dobbs) is endearing as the male lover, Michael Mulheren (Mayor Josiah Dobbs) dead on for the parent who would do anything to save his son from the mistake of having a child too soon, proving it in “A Man’s Gotta Do”. A.J. Shively (Billy Cane), Hannah Elless (Margo Crawford), Stephen Bogardus (Daddy Cane), Dee Hoty (Mama Murphy), Stephen Lee Anderson (Daddy Murphy), Emily Padgett (Lucy Grant), Maddie Shea Baldwin (Swing, u/s Margo Crawford), Allison Briner-Dardenne (County Clerk, Ensemble, U/s Mama Murphy), Max Chernin (Max, Ensemble, u/s Daryl Ames, Billy Cane), Patrick Cummings (Stationmaster, Ensemble, u/s Jimmy Ray Dobbs), Sandra DeNise (Edna Ensemble, u/s Alice Murphy, Lucy Grant, Mama Murphy), Richard Gatta (Dance Captain, Swing, u/s Daryl Ames), Lizzie Klemperer (Swing, u/s Margo Crawford), Michael X. Martin (Dr. Norquist, Ensemble, u/s Daddy Murphy), William Michaels (Swing, u/s Mayor Josiah Dobbs, Daddy Cane), Tony Roach (Ivan, Ensemble, u/s Billy Cane, Jimmy Ray Dobbs), Sarah Jane Shanks (Florence, Ensemble, u/s Alice Murphy, Lucy Grant), William Youmans (Stanford Adams, Ensemble, u/s Daddy Murphy, Dady Cane) all make the musical work through their gifted talents.
The Bright Star production team includes: Music, Book, Original story by Steve Martin, Music, Lyrics, Original Story by Edie Brickell, Director Walter Bobbie gets extra kudos for seamless traditions with the help of the Scenic Designer Eugene Lee, and Edward Pierce Scenic Design Supervision. Choreography by Josh Rhodes is hand slapping, foot stomping good, but the orchestrations for the music breaks never allow for the choreography to really hit that powerful high that audiences are expecting for a Broadway musical. Costumes by Jane Greenwood are wonderfully white, Japhy Weideman Lighting Designs light the stage well, Nevin Steinberg proves once again the Tony Award’s should honor a sound designer, imagine this amazing band and talented musicians without sound! When you don’t notice Hair and Wig Design standing out as the weak link in a show than the magic of Tom Watson is executed to perfection. No need to mention the casting, as who knows if the all white cast is to blame in the casting company or the creators themselves. Bright Star might not be the brightest creation to hit this Broadway season, but it did get a wonderful reaction from the live audience.
Does Bright Star top the list of magical musicals this Broadway season with The Color Purple, Fiddler on The Roof, On Your Feet, School of Rock, Disaster, or even Allegiance, Dames at Sea that have already closed? No! When critics in Film say wait till it hits Netflix or comes out on DVD, well wait till Bright Star goes on a National Tour or makes its’ way to your Regional Theatre level, and maybe the creative teams will add in a few ethnicities in the casting, to prove Bright Star could be a bit brighter, just by bringing a few faces to the stage that we see in everyday real life. Steve Martin may be one of our most iconic comedians and film stars, but this musical just proves sometimes you should spend your investments on new projects, with new talents that have the magic of musical story telling. Broadway Global reminds you to send your nominations of Broadway Global Producer of the Year, you can post your nomination on USA Theatre Chat with hashtags #BroadwayGlobal and #TheatreChat or email them directly to Theatrechat@me.com. Please note, Broadway Global Producerof the Year winners are leaving a legacy for global live works of stage art, give back to not for profits that help our global society like Broadway Cares, Broadway Barks, Cancer research.. and are accessible on Social Media. For more information on Bright Star please visit www.brightstarmusical.com.