‘Bright Star’ opens Thursday

By Roz Weis,

New Minowa Players is bringing the hit Broadway musical “Bright Star” to Decorah this week. The summer musical: a sweeping story of love and redemption set in the American South in the 1920s and 1940s and supported by the bright and authentic sound of bluegrass music.

The production is inspired by a true story, and features a Tony-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. When editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens in her a need to understand some painful experiences in her past. With Billy’s help, she sets out on a journey to unravel the mystery. What she finds is a surprise that has the power to transform both of their lives.

“Bright Star” will be performed at the Decorah High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. on June 27, 28, and 29, and at 2 p.m. on June 30.

The show will be co-directed by Sheryl Scheffert and David Mendez, with Julia Wharton serving as music director and Tanya O’Connor as costumer. Rehearsals are already underway with a stellar cast of local talent.

The production starts with literary editor Alice Murphy (Sarah Brandt) announcing that it is finally time to tell the painful story of her past. Billy Cane (Carston Krieg) is a returning soldier and aspiring writer. When reuniting with his father, Daddy Cane (Matt Spencer), he learns that his mother has died while he was away. Billy’s childhood friend Margo Crawford (Emily Schmidt) supports him in submitting his stories to the local newspaper, The Asheville Southern Journal. This is where he meets Alice.  The meeting triggers many memories in Alice. She recalls her teenage love affair with Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Alex Rosenow), which was interrupted by both sets of parents: Daddy Murphy (Jonathan Struve), Mama Murphy (Eva Brummel), and Mayor Josiah Dobbs (Rick Scheffert). Yet the relationship had consequences. Alice has tried to repress the memories for years, but they bubble to the surface, and now she must know: What really happened? The heartfelt bluegrass music helps move the story forward to the final revelation.

There are many other named roles in the show, including: Florence (Alison Blake), Edna (Annika Krieg), Daryl (Lucas Hanson), Lucy (Indigo Fish), Stanford (Jon Thompson), Max (Earl Lienau), Government Clerk (Hallie Johnson), Dr. Nordquist (Elise Bennett), LeAnn (Taylor Vick), Mary (Nessa Kane), Well-Dressed Woman (Violet Hatfield), Young Daddy Cane (Alison Blake), and Stationmaster (Sydney Landstrom). Joining them in the ensemble are Alex Kane, Jenna Hartz, Kelly Johnson, and Emma Cline.

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