the new old globe musical bright star has a bright future

Bright Star at the Old Globe

Photo by Joan Marcus

The brand new musical, Bright Star, is indeed a bright star. From note one, the performers and musicians lit up the theater with brilliant talent and depth of character.

I made the assumption before seeing the show that it would be a comedy with Steve Martin at the helm, but we all know what happens when we ass-u-me. Though there were funny, lighthearted, joyful moments, the majority of the show has an emotional, sometimes heavy, undertone that tugs at heartstrings and shines a light on some darker sides of humanity.

Bright Star follows two simultaneous story lines, from two different eras, as they unfold and ultimately converge, just as real life tends to do.

Carmen Cusack, who plays the lead role of Alice Murphy, has a deep richness to her voice that drew me in and didn’t let go. I could listen to her sing for hours on end. The entire blue-grassy, banjo infused score created by Martin and Edie Brickell feels essentially like its own character in the show. The band sits on stage, housed in a log cabin that glides swiftly across the floor throughout the entire enchanting run time. Fiddles and other stringed instruments shine just as brightly as the voices and make the subtitle of “A New American Musical” a spot-on description.

From the haunting melody of “She’s Gone” to the uplifting refrain, “Sun’s Gonna Shine Again,” the musical numbers touch a chord with the audience that is real and rememberable. Throughout the whole show, I had the overwhelming feeling of being home.

A New American Musical Bright Star playing at the Old Globe

photo by Joan Marcus

In an interview for Performances magazine, Martin and Brickell were asked, “How are you hoping audiences respond to the piece?”

Martin’s response . . . “For them to be moved from tears to joy. Certainly that.”

And that, it certainly did.

Bright Star is a moving, magical show with a bright, bright future. It runs through November 2nd at the Old Globeat the Old Globe. Don’t miss it!



  1. 1
    Tom H. says:

    A beautiful show. Some truly great talent onstage, and I agree with your admiration of Carmen Cusak. I knew a little bit about the show, so I wasn’t expecting jazz hands. Speaking of, the same director helmed the current revival of Chicago. Like that show, lots of skillful movement and wonderful visuals created with minimal scenery. Some fabulous direction. Things were kept at brisk pace, mostly. My one big criticism was that some of the songs were just too long, and momentum then got dragged down. And every moment does not need to be musicalized. For instance, in the cabin, AKA the “Pleeeeeease dooooooon’t take my b—-!” scene. Seemed to be going in slow motion. Or the song at 3:00 in the video. Lots of repition. I suspect that Edie Brickell thought every moment had to have its own song. Sometimes, less is more. Having said that, bravo to everyone involved. I think with some trimming, nipping and tucking, this show will have a future. So glad you got to see this, Mary.

  2. 2
    Laura says:

    In a word, “satisfying”. I love that feeling after seeing live theater, reading a book, watching a movie. This show delivered satisfaction.

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