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Bright Star

Members say: Entertaining, Delightful, Original, Great singing, Great staging
68 reviews
958 reviews

In this musical by actor-writer Steve Martin and '80s pop icon Edie Brickell, a young man returns from WWII to his North Carolina home and uncovers dark secrets about his past.... Read more

Inspired by a true event, this tuner is a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and '40s. When successful literary editor Alice Murphy meets an ambitious young soldier just home from World War II, their connection inspires Alice to confront her past. Together they discover a stunning secret with the power to transform their lives.


Reviews (1026)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"The musical is gentle-spirited, not gaudy, and moves with an easygoing grace where others prance and strut. And it tells a sentiment-spritzed story...While the story certainly skirts (if not embraces) sentimentality and the overripeness of melodrama, the production’s soft-hued style keeps it from curdling into treacle. The songs boast simple but seductive melodies, and lyrics that have a sweet, homespun quality. The mostly acoustic score is beautifully played." Full Review


"Those in the market for an old-fashioned, feel-good show should check out 'Bright Star,' Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's charming but somewhat underdeveloped new musical...The rhymes are often forced and the lyrics repetitive...Luckily, the delightful bluegrass music keeps us blissfully distracted most of the time...Judging from the moist eyes that surrounded me, these ham-fisted oversights won't do much to dampen the enjoyment Broadway audiences get from Bright Star, a joyous new show." Full Review


"The new Southern Gothic musical shows all the signs of being written by a pair who have not quite grasped some of the basics of the genre's craft...A lack of lyrical specificity plagues much of the score, limiting variety in the way the characters express themselves. When the authors do deliver a pair of dramatic second act songs to serve the storytelling, the music and lyrics are embarrassingly heavy-handed...Nice music, fine performances, but other than that, barely a twinkle." Full Review


"Initially, there are enjoyable elements. The onstage band is lively and quick-fingered, and director Walter Bobbie’s overall production has a fresh, whimsical feel...Sadly, Edie Brickell’s awkward and obvious lyrics are hobbled by cheap rhymes...You will see the eleventh-hour revelations coming from a country mile away...Steve Martin’s jaunty bluegrass score may get your toes tapping, but only if the sappy and sketchy plot does not drive you out at intermission." Full Review


"'Bright Star' is Broadway-slick, with top-rung creatives involved and an appealing lead performance from Carmen Cusack. But the sheer scale of the package overwhelms this sweet but slender homespun material...Martin is an accomplished banjo player and the music he writes with Brickell sounds completely authentic...they also sound repetitive...The big drawback to the chatty lyrics is that they re-hash the plot’s melodramatic content, but neglect to deepen or explore the characters." Full Review

Time Out New York

"'Bright Star' aspires to be what the older Alice asks from a young fiction writer: 'a sweeping tale of pain and redemption'. But it cries out for an editor’s sharp blue pen. Sweeping? In lieu of the color that the story seems to call for, Bobbie’s production is often actively plain...Painful? For the audience, perhaps...It does, however, have a genuine redeeming feature in Cusack...If not much else, the musical does right by its star, the bright spot in a sky of murk." Full Review

New York Post

"The weird thing about 'Bright Star' is the way it juxtaposes an over-the-top plot with a low-key production and mild-tempered music...The show ambles along, alternating between lively hootenannies and lovely ditties...The show’s droll, earnest tone does have its appeal. Fans of Martin’s humor will find evidence of it here...As a gentle fable, 'Bright Star' has a quirky charm, but its stubborn refusal to face up to its dark side diminishes it." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"'Bright Star' is still suffering some issues of scale. The story it tells is a small and tender one and the staging and the music, playful and lovely, sometimes struggle to fill the house...If there are a few too many numbers here, nearly all of them are sparkish...Cusack is nuanced and forceful...Paul Alexander Nolan plays her one-time lover and it’s a treat to see him in what initially is a more playful role...Their combined energy and allure lend the musical lustre." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

"After collaborating on two bluegrass albums, Martin and Brickell decided to create a musical around the songs. The result is 'Bright Star', a tuneful, well-performed display of American roots music...Its sweet score makes up for the preposterous if occasionally moving story...This straightforward if complicated plot starts to merge, taking turns so improbable (and yet so predictable)...'Bright Star' largely insists on the earnest, sentimental tone of an old-fashioned musical." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'Bright Star' is filled with people busily coming and going, but not acquiring any interest or complexity. Near the end, when the big secret is out, there should be plenty of displacement and upset to go around; instead, everyone is hustled into a happy-ending tableau that feels almost comically unearned. What allure 'Bright Star' has comes from Martin and Brickell's music, which has the melancholy pull of a great country ballad...Brickell's lyrics are another matter." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Carmen Cusack knocks the ball out of the park…You can see the conclusion coming a mile away, but the show is so exquisite in every way that you don’t mind watching everything unfold...Scenes could be trimmed...The cast is a marvel of ensemble work…All in all it is an evening that will take you out of the city and off to the mysterious magic of the Appalachians for two decades of stories that will get you in all the right places: Head, heart, and all the way down to the toes of your feet." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Bluegrass-y, Southern-Gothic-y 'Bright Star,' which is directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Josh Rhodes with a sleekness that makes your head spin with giddy delight...When an audience member is inspired to think ahead of the creative team it can make a protracted second act that much longer. It felt like I was waiting for the inevitable to occur...On the formidable plus-side, there’s much more to say of the 'Bright Star' score...Yet the real heroes here are Bobbie and Rhodes" Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Despite the vibrant life pulsating from the bluegrass that underscores 'Bright Star' the overwhelming feeling that emanates from this new musical is the exhaustion of cliché...The chief problem here is that, outside of the delightful music, there's nothing new in either the story or the telling of it that energizes the drama...Cusack is a coruscating force of nature as Alice...It's not enough to elevate the evening above the pedestrian." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Enjoyable as much of it is, ‘Bright Star’...may not shine as brightly in Broadway’s constellation as some of its more unique and noteworthy competitors. It’ll be interesting to see if its pleasing bluegrass score, strong performances, and smart staging are enough to compensate for its thin book, melodramatically coincidental premise, stereotypical Southern-fried characters, and conventional situations." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“The simplicity of folksy ‘Bright Star’ is in the economy of Walter Bobbie’s direction and Eugene Lee’s set design...And while the musicians, including a standout fiddler, are only partially seen, their music is notable...Even for those who aren’t bluegrass fans, the score is a winner. ‘Bright Star’ is a traditional musical with a dark edge. No bells and whistles, just heart and soul." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Martin is a good banjo player who writes not-so-great plays. Now he’s branched out by writing a really bad bluegrass-pop musical...The best thing about 'Bright Star' is the music, which is bland and undramatic but competently wrought. The plot is trite, the dialogue humorless and stiff, the lyrics stupefyingly banal. The cast and band work hard and Bobbie does his best to breathe life into the show, but if Martin’s name weren’t on the marquee, it wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near Broadway." Full Review

AM New York

“'Bright Star' is a total anomaly. It’s wholly original and unashamedly sentimental and romantic, with a country-folk score and no well-known actors in the cast...The storytelling can be jumbled, improbable and sappy, and the characters are undeveloped. Nevertheless, it is a heartwarming and crowd-pleasing musical, sporting many pleasant country songs, a sunny disposition and a Southern Gothic flavor." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"There's a disarming sweetness and sincerity to this folksy Americana bluegrass musical which makes the tuneful melodrama a pleasurable experience. It also helps that talented lead Carmen Cusack brings such integrity and warmth to her performance...Brickell's lyrics lack imagination and specificity, and can seem awkwardly pasted onto gentle melodies that at times become a little samey...It's easy to overlook the shortcomings of the musical's craft and go with its sweet-natured optimism." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The show isn’t a bullseye. But it’s sweet and tender and boasts a fine cast...Martin and Brickell’s bluegrassy score is mellow and pretty. But it’s also repetitive — melodically and lyrically...The show could have cut some too...Director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Josh Rhodes keep the show chugging along. An elevated toy train set adds amusing atmosphere...Cusack, a Broadway rookie, consistently shines — even when 'Bright Star' doesn’t." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"'Bright Star' is a banal, self-cancelling, upbeat musical, the kind that wants to demonstrate a lot of heart without actually having one. Which is not to say it has no smarts and no value. There’s a lot to like in 'Bright Star' and a lot to admire in the way it was made...How the stories intersect with the songs is the larger problem here. The mostly bluegrass score sounds great but almost always does exactly the opposite of what a story-based musical requires." Full Review


"Skip 'Bright Star,' the unfortunate musical...this earnest but soggy mess. 'Bright Star' reeks of condescension, from the twangy accents to the charm layered on like dollar perfume and the thigh-slapping slap-happy dances...However, the songs are, in and of themselves, striking...But nothing really takes flight in 'Bright Star'. It’s as earthbound as the folks it wants to celebrate." Full Review


"'Bright Star' is unlikely to become part of the canon of groundbreaking musicals with memorably meaningful stories. But, it's chockablock with assets to make for an enjoyable, feel-good two hours...So give in to 'Bright Star's' charms, as I did, and let the nitpickers complain. Yes, it's headed from the get-go to an inevitably happy ending that relies on some pretty far-fetched contrivances...But with Carmen Cusack as Alice, this is your chance to see a-star-is-born Broadway debut." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Martin forged score, book and story for this wholly original musical—a piece that, despite its tonal unevenness and frequent, needless diversions from truth, still feels like a significant, distinctive and artful entry into the Broadway repertory...It would be an even-better thing if this show acknowledged the racial complexities of the era of its setting...A moving story that got under my skin despite some resistance, and a score that elevates the Broadway-bluegrass fusion." Full Review


"It doesn’t shy away from the cornball or the unapologetically sentimental. And, yes, the plot is implausibly romantic and hinged on coincidence. Along with all that, however, 'Bright Star' is also downright wonderful...As the relationships deepen and darken, the show grows with the complexity of a juicy short story...Then there’s the score, which builds with rhythmic surprises, melodic complexity and the deep satisfaction of humming and plucking strings." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"An old-fashioned Broadway musical with pleasing music, agreeable lyrics, and an engaging book...The musical’s story is also universal and engaging. Its themes are important and life-affirming…The cast, under Walter Bobbie’s careful direction is uniformly magnificent…'Bright Star' is not perfect–some of the story seems contrived and sometimes predictable–but director Walter Bobbie keeps the musical moving forward with an intensity and freshness that is remarkable and noteworthy." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Enchanting, Romantic, Predictable, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You've enjoyed Steve Martin's banjo music already, want a mysterious story with a tremendous lead actress & are looking for a sweet show.

Don't see it if You want to be completely surprised by an ending. You like your musicals with more typical show tunes. You want famous performers.

Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You want a super cute show with great music and great singing.

Don't see it if You do not like bluegrass music or need a deep story.

Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Riveting, Cliched

See it if If you want to see incredible performances with a beautiful story and score. Or if you like Steve Martin.

Don't see it if If you don't like Steve Martin's work. Or if you prefer something a little more original.

Romantic, Cliched, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are a fan of bluegrass and enjoy light, predictable fare.

Don't see it if you don't like overly sweet stories.

Delightful, Intense, Refreshing, Romantic, Great singing

See it if you like bluegrass tunes, you want to be moved by something original and bowled over by the talent of Carmen Cusack.

Don't see it if banjos give you hives.

Original, Delightful, Romantic, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you support original scores on Broadway and want to see/hear a terrific, star-making lead performance.

Don't see it if you can't deal with a bit of a contrived plot and weak lyrics.

Original, Enchanting, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Great score, choreography, performances. Bluegrass-type music sounds great. Terrific.

Don't see it if You don't like bluegrass/country/folk music or aren't willing to be open to non-traditional musical styles.

Great acting, Cliched, Great singing

See it if Unforgettable performances by Cusack and Nolan. Beautiful score and orchestration. Uplifting and optimistic story.

Don't see it if Banal lyrics. Excessively sentimental at times. Lazy plot resolution.

Original, Absorbing, Exquisite, Resonant, Great singing

See it if you have a chance, closes Sunday! If you like a good story.

Don't see it if You are annoyed by bluegrass music.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to witness the incredible Carmen Cusack in a delightful little show with some wonderful tunes.

Don't see it if you don't like banjo.

Cliched, Entertaining, Fun, Great singing, Fluffy

See it if bluegrass music is your thing, you want to see a great leading performance by Carmen Cusack; it's a fun show that's not overly complicated

Don't see it if you dislike shows where you can see the ending coming or music that is same-y; the direction is a bit muddled, but it's a solid production

Delightful, Cliched, Insipid, Predictable, Entertaining

See it if you don't mind thoroughly enjoying a show that you will realize afterward is quite indulgent and pointless.

Don't see it if you need a story that's a step above a tired, ridiculous soap opera plot. I scored it well because it's a tremendously wonderful awful show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a folk-y, blue-grass sound, and great gut-wrenching performances.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of the banjo, musicals, and shows where things don't end badly.

Funny, Delightful, Masterful, Profound, Romantic

See it if delightful musical with equal parts humor and drama by a winning cast and a superb Cusack.

Don't see it if Americana story feels like a Hallmark Movie of the Week and is questionable in universal appeal; gasps at first act close (for good reason)

Original, Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy all types of entertainment, are open to new and different types of story telling, may like Blue Grass music more than you know.

Don't see it if You are set in your ways.

Great acting, Cliched, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love country music and family drama stories with happy endings and are willing to overlook bad lyrics for good music, singing, and lines

Don't see it if you want more than elementary lyrics. The great singing, staging, libretto, and singing, was unforgivably let down by the lyrics

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you enjoy musical theater. Great concept, acting and singing. We totally enjoyed it.

Don't see it if you don't like musicals. Otherwise it'll win you over quickly. Enjoy!

Original, Enchanting, Romantic, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you enjoy new musicals that are romantic yet intelligent. Be ready to fall in love with Carmen Cusack. Writers will appreciate the story.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of musicals or Appalachian/Southern music. This isn't intense drama: the show is predictable. Seek grit elsewhere.

Original, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like bluegrass music and unusual family stories.

Don't see it if you prefer serious dark stories.

Refreshing, Great singing, Great staging, Sweet, Sentimental

See it if you want a feel good show with a happy ending.

Don't see it if you don;t like southern accents, country music.

Enchanting, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you enjoy folk music and great story-telling.

Don't see it if you are bothered by folk music.

Enchanting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you would like to hear something different on Broadway but also see a contemporary musical conventions at the same time.

Don't see it if you hate fizzy-haired Taylor Swift's music and cliched female soprano story

Funny, Original, Quirky, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you love country or banjo music. Really strong performances from the cast. Creative and compelling production design.

Don't see it if convenient story devices drive you nuts. Trying to avoid spoilers, but the resolution of the conflict left me wanting more and felt too easy

Refreshing, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You're into bluegrass music. Even if you are not, you might enjoy the terrific band and a knockout performance by Carmen Cusack.

Don't see it if You expect a big, brassy musical.

Enchanting, Refreshing, Romantic, Dated, Great singing

See it if You love bluegrass, want to see the Broadway debut of the wonderful Carmen Cusack, and don't mind a little cheese in your musicals.

Don't see it if You're allergic to hokum or contrivance. The plot is a bit silly, and if you can't get past that to enjoy the score & staging, it will annoy