Mother’s Day is around the corner. And what better gift than tickets to a warm, funny, moving Broadway show, starring an incredible newcomer: Carmen Cusack. Tickets to Bright Star, which opened on Broadway this season, would make the perfect Mother’s Gift this year.
Bright Star, written and composed by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), and Edie Brickell, “tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and 40s. When successful literary editor Alice Murphy meets an ambitious young soldier just home from World War II, their connection inspires Alice to confront her past. Together they discover a stunning secret with the power to transform their lives.”
It’s a gem.
I loved so much about this show: the orchestra visible the whole time, making the music integral to every aspect of the show. The costumes — evoking a time and place gone by. The star: in her debut, Cusack stuns. The love interest: cause I may like me some good theatre, but I also like me some eye candy, and Paul Alexander Noland fits the bill. Gorgeous! (and talented, but with looks like that, who cares?)
And I’m not the only one who likes this: It’s gotten Drama League and Outer Critic Circle award nominations for Best New Musical, this show is a critical hit. (Too Bad that “other” show will likely win most things this year. I mean, Hamilton is great, truly. But it’s not the only game in town.)
This is not a show for people who want to see puppets, singing teapots, and flying carpets. Bright, Star is an understated musical. No Hollywood Stars filling the cast, no overblown production numbers that make you look around for a pair of mouse ears, just in case you’ve wandered into a certain theme park by mistake. Bright Star is a little gem of a musical. It felt like an off-Broadway show to me — which is a compliment, believe me. Because what I mean by that is that it felt like a show that hadn’t been marketed to death. It is a pure and shining piece of theatre. Lovely, beautifully played blue-grass style music. Impeccable acting — especially by Carmen Cusak. Beautiful lighting that really captures (how I imagine) a summer afternoon in the rural South in the 1920’s.
There’s something refreshing about seeing a show that doesn’t push so hard to be…BIG! Bright, Star is content to find the beauty in a well-played fiddle, in a heartfelt (if, OK, perhaps overly romanticized) young love. It’s the kind of show you feel good about supporting and seeing, because it feels like it was put on with love: love of Americana, love of country music, and love of theater, and not just showmanship.
I read in the NY Times the other day the Bright,Star is not faring so well at the box office — and that’s a shame. It’s a rare thing: a product-tie-in- celebrity-ticket-baiting- free ode to what’s great about American Theater. It’s — if you’ll excuse me – a Bright Star on Broadway.
Don’t miss it.
I was given two tickets to the show to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.