Bright Star – Theatre Review

Written and composed by Edie Brickell and legendary comedian Steve Martin comes, Bright Star. A double-barreled emotional rollercoaster musical set in the American Deep South during the late 1940s and the early 1920s. Produced by local company Pursued by Bear and with a stunning cast full of young Aussie talent, Bright Star is one production that must be seen!

This stunning musical follows the story of literary editor Alice Murphy (Kala Gare), a woman troubled by her heartbreaking past, as she meets an aspiring young writer, Billy Cane (Callum O’Malley). Inspired by the passion Cane has for the craft of writing, Murphy finds herself longing for what she lost at his age. As the story progresses, and with the aid of incredible light and sound effects, the production cleverly flashes back and forth between these two emotionally charged times.

It is easy to see why Bright Star was nominated for five Tony Awards back in 2016, including Best Musical. Steve Martin’s book is stunning, from the clever comedy to the gripping heartbreak, it is also clear why it was nominated for Best Book of a Musical. Martin’s work with Edie Brickell on the music and lyrics is equally as fantastic. Although Bright Star did not win a Tony, it did take out the award for ‘Outstanding New Broadway Musical’ in the Outer Critics Circle.

This production wouldn’t have had such an impact on me if it weren’t for the extremely talented local cast and crew. With too many to name off one by one, because I would likely just recite the entire program book, there are several outstanding performances. It was no surprise to me that Anthony Craig was again amazing on stage. Having previously seen him in the one man show, Private Peaceful, it was a treat to see him again and this time with a banjo in his hands. Matthew Prime was incredibly believable in his role as the love torn Jimmy Ray Dobbs that struggles between the love of his life and the expectations of his father.

The clear stand out in this production is Kala Gare as Alice Murphy. The way she flipped between the young woman, drunk on love in the 1920s to the matured and professional literary editor in the 1940s, is truly a sight to be seen. Kala Gare left nothing in the tank as she poured her heart and soul into her performance, even breaking into tears during one of her final songs. You might even say that Kala Gare is the ‘stellar’ performance of this production.

Having come from the much larger Broadway stage, I was concerned that the show’s impact would be limited. However, the production cleverly makes perfect use of the limited space available on the intimate Chapel off Chapel stage.

Bright Star everything you could ever wish for in a musical. Strong and emotionally charged lead characters, a stunningly talented ensemble cast, and a brilliant on-stage live band. I absolutely loved this show and I strongly suggest you cancel your plans and head to Chapel off Chapel to catch it before this bright star shoots off into the distance.

Bright Star is on now at Chapel off Chapel until Sunday, 3rd of November. They even have a special Relaxed Performance on Wednesday, 30th of October.

For tickets and more information, please visit:

Photography by Fon Photography.

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