What Could Be Better Than ‘Bright Star’: A Real Story for the Ages

LHS Drama program wows the audience with rousing performances of 'Bright Star'

March 9, 2023


Alix Queen

Anna Wright (12), who played Alice Murphy, and Connor Higlen (11), playing Jimmy Ray Dobbs, performing “What Could Be Better” with the ensemble.

If you knew the story of the characters within, you might be surprised by what exactly you find had happened way back in the day. 

“Bright Star,” the romantic, musical drama, was taken on by the talented Liberty theatre this year from March 2-4. Moreover, it’s a musical that tells quite the story, while imprinting itself in the minds and hearts of many, one scene and song at a time. 

This production follows the story of the witty magazine editor, Alice Murphy (played by Anna Wright). As this musical takes us through the 1940s in Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, we see how returning World War II soldier, Billy Cane (Logan Honerkamp) goes to Asheville to get his stories published in the Asheville Southern Journal. While the musical continues to follow the connection between Billy Cane and Alice Murphy, the audience is returned to when Alice was young, showing off her youthful experiences. Alice Murphy continues to explore the once-dead ends of her past, all while the audience is swept up in the melodious,  intertwining tale of love, heartbreak and reuniting. 

We who watched this powerful, heart wrenching show on Friday, March 4, will now begin to explain what makes “Bright Star” a school production and monumental story to remember.

First and foremost, with this being a musical production, the actors’ vocals must be mentioned. And, to be frank, where does one begin! Every single person on stage had such crisp, clear voices. The pronunciation of each word allowed the entire audience to follow along with this story told through song. In addition, what was most surprising was the consistency of the voices throughout this 2 ½ hour production. Of course, I was expecting some great singing, but this truly blew away all of my expectations! I was in love with the songs, and the power behind all the voices delivered spectacularly. I especially loved how well every single individual harmonized with each other, therefore creating a spectacular surrounding sound that engulfed the entire audience. From the show starting off with a bang with “If You Knew My Story,” to inducing tears to fall down with the bittersweet “At Long Last,” each and every voice was on point from the beginning, and to the end!

“Bright Star” started off strong with the cast of the show singing “If You Knew My Story.” (Alix Queen)

In continuation, if we’re going to bring up what was perfect from the beginning to end, then the costumes are exactly what needs to be commented on. My mind was truly blown by the meticulous details of every person in this very large cast. From the main characters, to a single member of the ensemble, each and every costume was not only unique, but also gorgeously put together. Along with the talent on stage, I truly applaud the talent behind the scenes. Everything was so on theme, colorful, and eye-catching. The makeup of each character truly added to the entire experience, making everyone feel as if they had taken a trip back in time.   

Now, if we’re going to talk about the talent of the people behind the scenes, we must talk about the other special effects that made “Bright Star” truly come to life. I for one loved the lighting! The colorful lights made each scene’s mood and effect hit home! Most importantly, the lighting wasn’t excessive at all. Instead of taking the attention away from the actors, the lighting only made their dialogues and actions better. Now, we must also mention the iconic train scene. When the dramatic red lighting and the smoke came together, I swear that you felt every bit of tension and apprehension from this single scene pulsing through you at every single angle. This was truly a climax to remember, and every effect in that scene added to the entire whole.

Furthermore, one aspect of “Bright Star” that shined was the emotions of the actors. Now this amount of professional, raw talent truly blew my mind. Each and every actor personified their characters so well, and it was beautiful as well as integral to the telling of this complex, emotional story. While watching this show, there were some notable talents who especially stood out in the deliverance of “Bright Star.”

One of them was freshman Tyler Bugg, playing Daddy Cane, the father of Billy Cane. As a freshman, his performance stunned the audience, though some familiar with the actor pointed out how he’s been in multiple productions before, therefore having experience in the field. In fact, although I knew that Bugg has acting history, watching him play the comedic and emotional recently-widowed-father was my first glance of Bugg’s acting ability, and I am definitely not the only one to tell you that he’s sure to go places. I feel that “She’s Gone” hit so hard for the audience members because of the sensitive emotion that was expressed from the actors, Bugg included. 

(Left to Right) Actors Logan Honerkamp, who played Billy Cane, and Tyler Bugg, who played Daddy Cane, spectacularly delivering the emotional song, “She’s Gone”. (Alix Queen)

Another notable performance was senior Morgan Feinstein’s, playing Margo Crawford. The feelings that she trapped the audience in, leading them gently through the rollercoaster of falling in love with a childhood friend, added depth to the musical itself. Her performance incited laughter as well as “awws” as the community watched Margo fall hard for Billy.

That’s not all! “Bright Star” allowed many talented actors to grace the stage, and one of them was a stunning  performance, delivered by junior Connor Higlen, posing as the captivating Jimmy Ray Dobbs. The softness in his eyes as he expressed his character’s love, the raw pain when hearing Billy’s possible fate, and the joy that flowed back once he was reunited with his love, Jimmy Ray Hobbs was a character that stunned the auditorium, just as captivating as the performance by his fellow castmate, Shane Wolz, playing Mayor Josiah Hobbs, Jimmy Ray’s father. Wolz carried us through the mindset of his character, something that is complicated to do on its own, but especially in his case, as he was playing one of the antagonists.

Last, but certainly not least, the emotions of the ensemble is what really tied the musical together. Equipped with their beautiful harmonizing, the ensemble of “Bright Star” brough the beauty of Alice Murphy’s world to us. Complete with dancing, smiles, and expressions that matched the mood of the musical, the ensemble took the audience’s hand and guided them through the emotional ups and downs of “Bright Star.”

As bright as the name suggests, “Bright Star” shone bright on all its nights on the stage. With expectation-exceeding plot, music, costumes, lighting, and not to mention acting (from all the actors), the story of Alice Murphy was certainly a must-see. As I watched with my friends, and even once I came home, my mind still remained entranced as the separation and reuniting of families remained in my mind even hours after the curtains closed for the night. “Bright Star” has completely obliterated my rating scale, but if I had to give it a rating, without a doubt it would be 5 out of 5 stars. A performance that I know will linger with me for long, and I knew connected with others watching as well, Liberty’s drama department truly delivered an exceptional masterpiece; one that freed laughs, but also resulted in tears. 

Reminding all of the integral role of family and love, “Bright Star” was a musical that would only truly hit… if you knew the story of the characters within.

View Comments (2)

LHStoday • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (2)

All LHStoday Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • L

    Lorelei | Mar 9, 2023 at 10:51 am

    This is wonderful! I enjoyed the commentary, and am proud to have been part of the production, especially after having had heard the impact it has had on the audience. Great writing, helpful commentary, thank you.

    • R

      Rathi Thiagarajan | Mar 9, 2023 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you so much, I appreciate it!