Theater review: Lyric Theatre's Oklahoma professional premiere of 'Bright Star' shines with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's rootsy score
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s buoyant bluegrass fable “Bright Star” shines despite its shortcomings in Lyric Theatre’s Oklahoma professional premiere production.
Cozily staged in Lyric’s Plaza Theatre, the five-time Tony Award-nominated show is homespun out of Martin and Brickell’s 2013 Grammy-winning bluegrass album “Love Has Come for You.”
The time-hopping narrative starts in 1945 as serviceman Billy Cane (Ken Singleton) returns home to tiny Hayes Creek after fighting in World War II. Determined to become a writer, he collects the manuscripts his lovelorn childhood friend Margo (Patty Irwin) has typed for him and heads to Asheville to submit them to a literary journal.
Acerbic staffers Darryl (Zak Reynolds) and Lucy (Lexi Windsor) try to turn him away, but Billy won’t leave until he can pitch formidable editor Alice Murphy (Bligh Voth). Although she sees through Billy’s lies, Alice starts reading his manuscripts, turning down Lucy’s invitation to go dancing.
Nostalgic Alice transforms via nifty onstage costume change — kudos to costume designer Jeffrey Meek for the Southern-charm couture — into her dancing teen self, circa 1923.
A smart and spirited girl with conservative parents (Vince Leseney, Jessica Tate), Alice is in love with nice guy Jimmy Ray (Michael Isaac), the son of Josiah Dobbs (Jonathan Beck Reed), scheming mayor of small-town Zebulon. When their liaisons lead to pregnancy, divergent plans made for the child have life-altering repercussions.
The storytelling feels a bit pat and predictable, but “Bright Star” refuses to turn its Southern characters into cliches, centers the story on a smart, complicated female character and features a fantastic score.
“Bright Star” continues through April 28 at Lyric at the Plaza, 1725 NW 16. For information, go to www.lyrictheatreokc.org.
— Brandy McDonnell, The Oklahoman