VSU opens dramatic bluegrass musical

October 25 – VALDOSTA – “If you knew my story / My heaven and my hell / If you knew my story / You would have a good story to tell.”

Mia Washington glides confidently across the stage at the Sawyer Theater as Alice Murphy sings the lyrics to “If You Knew My Story” from “Bright Star,” the musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.

With her around every turn, the Valdosta State University theater and dance cast follows, moving through time to choreography by Sarah Wildes Arnett and live music conducted by Joe Mason.

Three nights before the curtain opens, show director Hank Rion can see an immediately unspoken need for improvement but the opening number of “Bright Star” looks ready for an audience in a session preview. picture Monday night.

“Bright Star” looks set to shine.

VSU Theater shares the synopsis for the theatricalrights.com show: “Inspired by a true story and featuring the Tony-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, ‘Bright Star’ tells a sweeping story against the rich backdrop of the southern of the United States in the 1920s and 1940s.

“When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier who has just returned from World War II, it sparks her desire to find the child she lost. Alice embarks on a journey to understand her past – and what she discovers has the power to transform lives.

“With beautiful melodies and beautiful characters, the story unfolds like a rich tapestry of deep emotions.

An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you firmly in its grasp, “Bright Star” is as refreshing and authentic as it is boldly beautiful.”

For curious readers, that’s “it” Steve Martin and the same Edie Brickell of the band New Bohemians of the late 1980s. Martin and Brickell recorded a Grammy-winning bluegrass album together, enjoyed the collaboration, and have created the musical which premiered in 2016.

And while the show has several funny moments, as you’d expect from Steve Martin, the comedy isn’t absurd humor and that’s just part of the show, Rion said.

“It’s really, really sad in places,” he said. “It’s a drama with a very deep and moving story.”

Rion joined the VSU Theater & Dance team last year. He is the artistic director of the Peach State Summer Theater and directed “Cinderella” and “Sister Act” during PSST 2022! season. After two comedic musicals, Rion said he was ready for a musical with dramatic touches.

“Bright Star” is that musical.

Arnett said she invoked the North Carolina mountain setting and bluegrass soundtrack filled with banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar to guide her choreography, incorporating swing, square dancing and dance. other styles.

On the Sawyer stage, the cast sways and swirls behind Washington as she finishes singing the last lines of “If You Knew My Story.”

VSU Theater hopes hundreds of South Georgians will know its story after a week-long broadcast of “Bright Star.”

THE CAST: Mia Washington, Ian C. Bingham, Alyssa Leo, Andrew Rowell, Stephen Sykes, Suzanne Nelson, Mason Ebert, Hannah Rose Kramer, Brandall Kearse, Quint Paxton, Kalab Quinn, Ella Risa Marroquin, Shelby Sharpe, David Cooper, Hope Clayborne, Braeden Baldwin, Tiyrai Anderson, Lauren Jacobs, Shamiracle Ross, Molly Armstrong, Donavon Martin, Alex Seelmeyer, Demetria Wright.

MUSICIANS: Joe Mason, conductor, piano; Ethan Ray Parker, keyboard, accordion, autoharp; Abishai Diaz, double bass; Theo Drakopoulos, drums; Jay Hicks, banjo, guitar, mandolin; Catherine Yara, violin/violin; Benjamin Suarez, viola; Lidia Sanchez, cello.

DIRECTION, PRODUCTION: Hank Rion, director; Sarah Wildes Arnett, choreographer; Ruth A. Brandvik, set designer; Chalise Ludlow, costume designer; Jesse Latherow, lighting designer; Zach Cramer, sound designer; K’Nyia Bumpers, Technical Director; Taylor Parris, stage manager; Joe Mason, musical/vocal director.

Valdosta State University Theater and Dance presents “Bright Star,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, October 27-29; 3 p.m. Sunday, October 30; 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, Sawyer Theatre, VSU Fine Arts Building, corner Oak and Brookwood. More information, reservations: Call (229) 333-5973 or visit www.valdosta.edu/comarts.

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