Steve Martin’s Bright Star brought romance, adventure, and trauma to the North stage through bluegrass music and a strong narrative.
Seniors Tatiana Jackson-Saitz and Casey Weaver directed the North production, which aired Dec. 12 to 14 at 7:30 pm in the Little Theatre.
The show portrays two love stories in different decades that intertwine through a complex plot. In the 1940s, North Carolina war veteran Billy Cane, played by senior Myles Murphy, comes home to kickstart his writing career. While connecting with friends and family, he brings some of his stories to newspaper editor Alice Murphy, played by senior Sarah Bottino. There are frequent flashbacks to the 1920s where the events that led to her career are revealed.
From the moment the actors came on stage, their appearance expressed each characters’ personality. The light blue shoes of Margo Crawford, Billy’s childhood best friend and secret admirer, played by senior Jenn Tang, showed the girl’s youth and innocence to the world. The slicked back hair and mustache on Mayor Josiah Dobbs, played by senior Josh Lev, showed the severity of his actions and his harsh personality. The characters’ identities and personalities were on full display without a word said.
When discussing how they chose Bright Star as their show to direct, Jackson-Saitz said, “We definitely wanted to have a female lead and when we found Alice, it just felt right.”
The acoustic live music brightened every song they did. Most musicals do not have folk music, which could be a struggle for the band, but they executed it wonderfully. A great example is “Whoa Mama,” an upbeat song sung by Bottino and junior Luke Moskowitz, who played her love interest.
“We were a little bit nervous by the bluegrass element because it’s so different from normal musical theater,” said Jackson-Saitz. “We came back to it and listened again, and we were really touched by the sense of hope.”
The band stayed on stage during the show, sitting on the front porch of a colorful house. The sets changed in front of the house while the house stayed the same.
At times in the show, the band handed actors props for comedic effect.“We wanted to have people interacting with the band,” said Weaver. “Those little moments bring them into the community.”
The connection between the band and cast, and the introduction of folk music to Theatre Ink made Bright Star a thoughtful and exciting musical.