East Carolina University’s School of Theatre and Dance (SoTD) will perform “Bright Star” on Nov. 16 through Nov. 20 in the McGinnis Auditorium.
According to ECU’s events calendar, ‘Bright Star’ tells the story of a woman, Alice Murphy, at two different points in her life: The first, when she is a wild, young and carefree girl in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the second when she is a well-to-do magazine editor in Asheville, 22 years later, according to ECU’s events calendar. Her story is woven with that of an idealistic young man named Billy, according to the events calendar.
Administrative Support Associate for the SoTD Amanda Hudson said this play is for anyone who loves folksy music, banjo music and considers themselves a North Carolinian.
“I think anybody that likes a good love story that has a few trials and tribulations will love it and anybody that has a good sense of humor will love the comedy in there,” Hudson said.
Steve Martin, the writer of “Bright Star” and renowned actor, is a great humorist and brings a lot of great subtle comedic aspects to the story, Hudson said. It's a very humorous show with brilliant music and lyrics crafted by Edie Britt, she said.
Because of her roots in eastern North Carolina, Hudson said she can personally relate to this story. The overall theme of “Bright Star” is love and following one’s dream, she said. Seeing the smiling faces of the crowd gives her great joy and drives her passion for theatre, she said.
“I just love musical theatre and I really enjoy seeing that heightened sense of reality on stage,” Hudson said. “And I love seeing the audience's reaction so I can relate to it in that way because theatre makes everybody happy.”
The work done by the student body can’t be ignored, Hudson said. The work put into creating SoTD’s productions is done mostly by the student body, she said.
The students are the actors, they build the set and they run the lights and the sound, Hudson said. It’s not just the theatre majors that help out, there’s business and construction majors as well, she said.
“We're instilling all facets of theatre behind the scenes.The business side of it, and the on stage experience to our students, you get a really good professional quality from our students when you come and see one of our shows,” Hudson said.
Director of Production for “Bright Star,” Bryan Conger, said at first it was a bit difficult to find a way to smoothly transition through the show’s time-period based settings, but it was a challenge that motivated him and the crew even more. Conger and the crew eventually overcame this challenge and now the transitions are fluid and move quickly, Conger said.
Participating in this production is another way to continue his passion for southern dramaturgy, Conger said.
“The shows we pick here are definitely first and foremost to serve our students and our audiences but also to serve our faculty’s creative activity and work, so I was very interested in stories that focus on specific cultures and Southern culture,” Conger said.
Sophomore musical theatre major and costume design minor, Madison Lind, said she took a lot of time researching and talking to mothers to prepare for her lead role as Alice Murphy. She goes back and forth between being 16 years old and being 40 years old in the show, so there’s a lot of difference in the way she has to act to show the audiences those two very different ages, she said.
Lind never thought she would land the lead role, she said. An ensemble role or a supporting character, she said, would’ve been satisfying for her.
“The cast list came out and I looked at the bottom of the cast list first to look at the ensemble, and then I just kept looking up and I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ and there my name was at the very top, so it was quite shocking,” Lind said. “I felt really connected to Alice’s character when I was reading the play and watching it for research, but I honestly didn’t think I’d end up getting it so it was quite a shock but a really big honor to play her.”
According to ECU’s events calendar, “Bright Star” will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16. The price of admission is $18 for the general public, $15 for senior citizens, faculty and staff and $10 for all other students and youth, according to the events calendar. Other times for the performance include: Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.