Photo by Joan Marcus
BRIGHT STAR broke my heart in so many ways. This is a small, blue grass fable with some catchy tunes (by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell) that packs a sweet, powerful wallop. Although the twist quickly becomes obvious, and the reveal is ham-fisted, getting there is all the fun and by the end I was sobbing; the kind of crying you do when you are overwhelmed with happiness and relief.
Carmen Cusack plays Alice Murphy who has a tall tale to share with us. Her acting is infectious and her voice is extraordinarily textured and enchanting. Unfortunately, rather than letting this wonderful chamber piece be true to its heart, the director Walter Bobbie has thrown in a completely superfluous chorus. A few times the chorus works, but most often they unnecessarily pull focus from the leads. There aren’t any big ensemble numbers and they aren’t integral to telling the story. They are there for one reason: to justify the price of a Broadway ticket. What I wouldn’t give to have seen this gem as an eight character intimate musical at the old Promenade Theater. 💔