A daringly hopeful tale of love and redemption in the South set to a soundtrack by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell? There's lots to adore about “Bright Star,” opening this weekend at Stars Theatre Restaurant.
Director Bruce Saathoff said he was taken with the show, inspired by Martin and Brickell's Grammy-winning 2013 bluegrass album "Love Has Come for You," when he saw it in L.A. as part of its first national tour.
"I was blown away by the music, the story, and the staging," he wrote in an email. "I was moved in so many ways. I knew if we ever did it at Stars I would have to be a part bringing it to life."
In the show, set in North Carolina, literary editor Alice Murphy (Jennifer Resolme) meets Billy Cane (Nick Ono), a young soldier just home from World War II. Their meeting sparks memories of her past and a longing for the child she had with then-beau Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Alex Neal) and lost. While she explores the troubles of her past, Billy reconnects with childhood friend Margo (Tessa Ogles) and tries to build his new life as a writer. Their stories and those of others in the town overlap in interesting and surprising ways.
The production also features Kevin Trueblood, Bob Anderson, Jaime Utof, Kyle Whitaker, Amelia Mejia and Zachary Gonzalez.
Saathoff said the soundtrack, from opening number "If You Knew My Story" to the finale, relies heavily on banjo, fiddle and bass to establish the bluegrass feel.
"Star" tackles love, loss, hope, redemption, forgiveness and class differences all with an uplifting resolution, Saathoff said.
"I would like audiences to leave with a sense of hope. A sense that no matter what life throws us we must move on and be hopeful. As the character says in the opening number, 'Even though I stumble, even though I fall, you'll never see me crumble, you'll never see me crawl.'"
Opening night will bring another surprise for audiences with the announcement of Stars' 2019-20 season. Due to some pending show rights, Saathoff couldn't disclose many details as of press time but did say to expect some first-run shows, revivals of favorite along with old classics.
"I think it's another great season that has something for everyone."