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Review: Bright Star at Chapel Off Chapel

By Natalie Hamman

Persued by Bear’s new production of Bright Star is an absolute delight. From the very moment you find your seats, you are swept up the charisma and charm of American South. Accompanied by the Grammy-Nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star is an uplifting journey sure to enthral you.

Bright Star follows the story of Alice Murphy (Kala Gare). A tougher than nails literary editor and her meeting with a young soldier just home from World War II who brings with him a strange familiarity. Haunted by past, Alice sets out on a journey to find closure.

Ex-soldier Billy Cane (Callum O’Malley) is an aspiring author. Having just returned from war, he finds himself chasing his dreams of writing all the way to the city, but can’t forget his deep love of his hometown, and perhaps, a beautiful gal who waits there.

Bright Star is a funny and uplifting tale of love, family, and dreams. While not advertised as a comedy, Bright Star’s humour and joyous spirit often left the audience is so much raucous laughter that the performers had to wait before they could continue with their lines.

The southern charm of the characters shone, and it was difficult not to fall in love with them and their stories. The chemistry between the performers themselves was a delight to watch and I found myself unable to wipe the smile from my face for the entirety of the first act and most of the second.

The singing of each of the actors was sweet and clear and some of the best I have heard so far this season. While unfortunately Bright Star did suffer some technical issues with the mics, the actors were able to continue on without much difficulty and their voices were heard loud and clear through the auditorium despite the southern drawl.

Every moment of Bright Star captures your attention. Freya List and Leah Hamlet have done an exceptional job choreographing the show and the dances were fun, vibrant, and a joy to watch.  The stage was often found in a flurry of activity, from the dancing, to the musicians, to the swift scene changes.

Bright Star uses a dozen crates which are stacked in different ways to set the scene. While this method usually takes audience imagination or character dialogue to set the scene, the subtle use of choice props never left any confusion as to the location the scene was taking place.  

The actors themselves gave charming performances and very well done and brilliantly showed the nuances of first love and genuine human connection. Kala Gare’s performance in particular was especially powerful. The intensity of her depiction of a mother’s pain was heartbreaking and profound.

It is no wonder that Bright Star has been nominated for five Tony Awards and won ‘Outstanding New Broadway Musical’ in the Outer Critics Circle. Bright Star may be one of the best small productions of this season and at the end of the night, it received a standing ovation by the audience members and critics alike. This is not a show to be missed.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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