'Bright Star' is currently on stage at the Solvang Festival Theater | Photo: Luis Escobar, Reflections Photography Studio

As delectable and comforting as a home cooked meal, Bright Star, produced by PCPA at the outdoor Solvang Festival Theater, is a story of love lost and found in rural North Carolina. This American folk musical, featuring book and music by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, garnered five Tony nominations when it opened on Broadway in 2016.

Post WWII, Billy Cane comes home to his tiny Southern town with aspirations of being a great writer. Story manuscripts in hand, he relocates to the nearby city in hopes of breaking into the business. He begins his solicitation of material at The Asheville Southern Journal, where he meets straight-laced editor Alice Murphy, who has a tragic backstory of her own. The narrative of the play alternates between the “present” in 1946, where Billy is making a life for himself, and 1923, where the secrets of Alice’s mysterious past unfold. The two timelines eventually merge as Billy and Alice discover hidden connections and commonalities that change the trajectory of both their lives.

‘Bright Star’ is currently on stage at the Solvang Festival Theater | Photo: Luis Escobar, Reflections Photography Studio

PCPA has a talented company of triple threats to cast from, filling the stage with lovely harmonies, spirited dancing, and engaging acting performances spanning the gamut of emotions from ecstasy to despair. Lesley McKinnell as Alice flawlessly alternates between the reserved editor and the vibrant teenage girl of two decades prior, finding truth in both versions of the character. Similarly, George Walker channels the youthful exuberance of young Jimmy Ray, Alice’s beau, and carries the character’s sense of humor and longing into maturity in the present day storyline. And Erik Stein, as Josiah Dobbs, plays such an effective villain that the audience good-naturedly booed him during the curtain call.

The excellent on-stage bluegrass band provides the musical backdrop to Bright Star’s triumphant highs and melancholic lows. Running through July 23rd, Bright Star shines under the Solvang night sky. 

See pcpa.org for tickets and additional information.


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