What's it about?
Whoever said nothing happens in a small town, clearly hasn’t heard this family’s story.
What'd I experience?
Bright Star is definitely a love story, but it was a different kind of love - a maternal love. It focused more on what it means to be a parent versus bringing a child into the world. It was also a story about forgiveness and loss, and how it can change people overtime.
Having Steve Martin involved in the story and lyrics, I was excited to see his other work since all I’ve known him for is the Cheaper By The Dozen dad and Inspector Clouseau.
The story opens with Billy, a US soldier coming back from war. Quickly his homecoming gets depressing when he finds out that during his time overseas his mum had passed away. After being consoled by his father he goes into to town and meets up with Margo, an old childhood friends that may or may not have the biggest crush on him - pretty sure if Pinterest was a thing in the 40’s she’d have the whole wedding planned. Apparently, Billy had been writing a lot during his time at war and unbeknownst to him Margo had been editing and printing them into a books. Soon, Billy takes his writing to the Nashville Journal (or something like that) and there he meets two of the funniest characters in this show. Lucy and Daryl were HILARIOUS.
The story jumps back and forth between the 20’s and 40’s (Billy’s time). I really loved how they played with the subject of homosexuality in the 1940’s with Daryl, even though it mostly through jabs at the fact that being a gay man was something people were ashamed of, I didn’t find anything offensive, it was mostly about giving a nod to the fact that back then people were so obvious in identifying as gay yet still tried to deny it. Second to Daryl, the other receptionist, was Lucy, pretty much the biggest flirt of 1940's the girl was relentless with getting into Billy’s pants.
Then, I’m taken back to some middle-of-nowhere countryside to meet a young Alice Murphy. She was probably the character I found the most intriguing and has the greatest misfortune. Not only was she stuck in the wrong time period for her aspirations, but it foreshadows how much loss she is going to have to endure in order to make her dreams happen, including losing herself. Being from the country she isn’t a girl that comes from wealth unlike her boyfriend, Jimmy, who is the son of a rich southern businessman, who couldn’t hate Alice more. Eventually their relationship leads to an unexpected pregnancy and that’s where the story really started.
Commence the fu*ked up life of Alice Murphy.
Remember when I said the boyfriend’s dad hated Alice? Yeah, well I’m not sure if hate can be used for how far Jimmy’s dad went to make their life a living hell. Taking advantage of Alice’s parents worries about the baby posing a threat to her future, the mayor forces them to sign off her child promising a better life for it. Soon I’m back to the 40’s where Alice is now the editor at the Asheville Southern Journal coincidentally the same one Billy is applying to. Coincidence is a key word in this show, at least for someone as analytical as myself otherwise I guess you can call it ‘destiny’. At this point it became obvious to me that Billy was possibly the long lost son of Alice, except for the fact that in a previous flashback it was insinuated that something tragic had happened to her son so it wasn’t a solid choice. This was harder than a telenovela to figure out! But that’s also the reason why I kept wanting the see more of the story reveal itself. I don’t want to give away too much because of the thousands of twists and turns it takes but also because there was something about that made me feel sort of warm inside (weird).
Nothing is ever solidly clear to me when I leave the theatre, but when I start to ponder why something made me feel a certain way things become more apparent. This story was full of so many things that life has us experience at least once. The story was focused more so on Alice's most joyful and despairing moments. It was incredible to see the journey of losing herself and slowly start to enjoy life once again after being wronged, then dealing with news that would change her life. Even after being told continuously that her child was more than likely dead the absence of her child never made Alice lose that maternal quality she had when her child came into the world. It reminded me of something I’ve heard all my life about being a mother, there is some sixth sense that lets them know their child is out there and, as superstitious as that sounds, it gave me a glimpse of hope for Alice.