Florida Studio Theatre (FST) reimagines Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star in a magical, romantic and innovative way.
The narrative follows Alice Murphy, a smart literary editor who holds onto a secret, and Billy Cane, a young soldier returning from WWII, with a dream to become a published writer. Their lives intersect when Billy arrives at the Asheville Southern Journal. He hopes to submit stories there, and meets Alice along the way. From there, the two form a bond. This spurs Alice to reflect on her past and take part in a journey of self-discovery, that not only impacts her life, but Billy’s as well.
What sets FST’s iteration of Bright Star apart from the Broadway original is working with a reduced cast and orchestra. First, resources should be considered. FST has a smaller stage and budget compared to a Broadway production. The director and musical director made up for this by finding actors with powerful talent and an ability to cross over an emotional fourth wall.
Additionally, actors are required to multitask. Not only must they take on their characters, but adopting musical roles is also part of the show’s whimsy. Originally, Bright Star was intended to cast 18-24 actors and have an orchestra of 15 playing piano, guitar and other instruments with a bluegrass twang.
“We had a team approach. Casting worked early on in combining smaller roles. The music director worked on cutting music that was not needed to change large sets," Bright Star’s director, Kate Alexander, explains. "The choreographer designed the dances to fit this size cast. Our approach was Story Theatre."
FST’s production has 10 actors and five band members, requiring some creativity on the director and musical director's part. For example, one of the actors sings, plays violin and uses her feet for percussion.
The multitalented team has finessed a seamless production with boundless creativity. “This is the spirit of this good cast; we were spontaneous and creative and invented a production that is unique and arresting,”Alexander says.
Due to popular demand, Bright Star has been extended through Jan. 12. Tickets range from $36-59. Visit FST’s website to learn more.