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Arts & Culture

Old Globe's 'Bright Star' Makes Broadway Debut

The creative team behind the new musical, "Bright Star," Edie Brickell (composer/lyricist) and Steve Martin (composer/writer).
Old Globe Theater
The creative team behind the new musical, "Bright Star," Edie Brickell (composer/lyricist) and Steve Martin (composer/writer).

The musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell premiered in San Diego

"Bright Star," a bluegrass-driven musical written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, had its first staging at The Old Globe in 2014.

Last night, the show made its Broadway debut, receiving mostly positive reviews, including a rave from The New York Times.

The show is set in the 1920s and 1940s and stars Paul Alexander Nolan and Carmen Cusack (no relation to the other Cusacks). They play a North Carolina editor and a young man just coming home from World War II, looking to pursue a writing career. Their lives intersect in surprising, emotional ways.

"Bright Star" is framed by a bluegrass soundtrack, with rollicking banjos and fiddles to move the story along.

This isn't the first Old Globe show to open in New York. Most recently, George Takei's "Allegiance," which documented his time at a Japanese internment camp played on Broadway from October to February. And "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" was on Broadway from November 2013 through this past January. The musical won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and is currently on a national tour.

"Into the Woods" premiered at the Globe in 1987 before opening on Broadway in 1988. Other success stories include "Damn Yankees," "The Full Monty" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

'Bright Star' Heads To Broadway

It's too early to tell whether "Bright Star" will have a long run at the Cort Theatre. But here are some nice things critics had to say about it:

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times: "The musical is gentle-spirited, not gaudy, and moves with an easygoing grace where others prance and strut. And it tells a sentiment-spritzed story — of lives torn apart and made whole again — that you might be more likely to encounter in black and white, flickering from your flat-screen on Turner Classic Movies."

Elysa Gardner of USA Today: "With their first stage musical, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell have set a high bar for themselves."

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune: "If you had any doubt of the formidable polyglot of talent that makes up one Steve Martin, or you were under the misapprehension that his banjo was primarily the accessory of a stand-up or Hollywood comic, the very conception of "Bright Star" should be enough to lay that to rest. In collaboration with the folk-rock musician Edie Brickell, Martin forged score, book and story for this wholly original musical — a piece that, despite its tonal unevenness and frequent, needless diversions from truth, still feels like a significant, distinctive and

Though not all critics loved it:

Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal: "Steve Martin is, among many other things, a good banjo player who writes not-so-great plays. Now he’s branched out by writing a really bad bluegrass-pop musical."

Jesse Green of Vulture: " . . . a banal, self-cancelling, upbeat musical, the kind that wants to demonstrate a lot of heart without actually having one."

Take a look at the opening night festivities, complete with celebrities, a red carpet and a banjo jam.

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