Members say: Entertaining, Delightful, Great singing, Original, Great staging

About the show

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.

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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.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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

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


"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


"'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


"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

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 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


"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

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

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

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

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 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

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 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

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 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

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


"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

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


"'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

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

The Associated Press

"The show never hits an honest note and seems to have been written by two people who adore classic Broadway musicals but who have intentionally decided to make a third-rate version. The music is weak...The book and lyrics are even more feeble, with graceless lines and weird characters...The show, so long exploring lost love, then descends into virtual farce before ending on such a forced happy note and with such swiftness that it'll knock the corndog out of your hand." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Refreshing, Cliched, Great singing, Great choreography

See it if Carmen Cusack is in it. She makes the show worth seeing. Music is refreshing, choreography is innovative. But Carmen's voice tells a story.

Don't see it if Bluegrass drives you nuts or you aren't up for a far-fetched story with a twist you can see coming from a mile away.

Delightful, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like bluegrass and/or country music and want to see a feel-good show with good music and strong acting.

Don't see it if you don't like bluegrass music and/or you want to see a show that's a bit more unpredictable or edgy.

Beautiful, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you like bluegrass and a great story

Don't see it if Not a fan of bluegrass

Also This show was so beautifully done. I laughed and cried. The actors whe... Read more Read less

Delightful, Quirky, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like broadway infused with some country music.

Don't see it if you expect a glamourous, full-blown production.

Also National treasure, Carmen Cusack, is truly amazing in the show!

Great acting, Romantic, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are looking for a wonderful show of great music and an amazing story. The show is very surprising and features blue grass music.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of blue grass music.

Clever, Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You are seeking a moving musical with a fresh score.

Don't see it if You do not enjoy country/bluegrass music.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great music

See it if you like bluegrass music and strong performers. It's worth seeing for the music alone.

Don't see it if you don't like far-fetched plots. This wrapped up a bit too neatly for my tastes.

Delightful, Romantic, Dated, Great singing, Fluffy


Don't see it if you don't like bluegrass-ish music or a somewhat unoriginal/predictable storyline.

Clever, Delightful, Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you love a good banjo strum, a happy love story intertwined through the decades.

Don't see it if You arent a blue grass, banjo fan

Funny, Delightful, Great singing, Optimistic

See it if you love a feel good, classic Broadway story and enjoy the emergence of fantastic new talent - Carmen Cusack is a goddess!

Don't see it if You don't like bluegrass or folk music. If you hate the banjo this is not the show for you (but you should really give it a chance!)

Also Such a delightful show, I'm devasted that is closed so quickly. I laug... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Profound, Great writing, Great singing, A-bluegrass-masterpiece!

See it if If you love Bluegrass Music, and great Old-Timey Country singing circa 1920s.

Don't see it if Infanticide is a topic that just too disturbing to see, and / or hear about in any incarnation.

Also Bright Star was a show that I saw in another incarnation. It was a one... Read more Read less

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.

Banal, Confusing, Excruciating, Cliched, Overrated

See it if you feel incomplete without seeing every single Broadway show, no matter how awful. And ONLY then.

Don't see it if you have standards.

Also Here's my summary of Act 1's arc: nothing, nothing, no stakes, no chem... Read more Read less

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, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like bluegrass music. You enjoy stories about love and redemption. You want a feel-good musical.

Don't see it if You can't suspend belief for an evening. Also, some lyrics could have used more work, even though the music itself is good.

Funny, Original, Delightful, Must see, Great staging

See it if you go to the theater.

Don't see it if See it!

Delightful, Refreshing, Romantic, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to see inspired and imaginative staging and great performances

Don't see it if you don't like blue-grass type music

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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Riveting, Great singing

See it if You like big, emotional stories with great music

Don't see it if You're a New York theatre critic, since none of them knows what a good musical is

Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Fluffy

See it if you LOVE bluegrass music and don't care about deep plot.

Don't see it if you want something new, fresh, or impressive.

Delightful, Enchanting, Romantic, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like old-fashioned country stories as well as sweet country music.

Don't see it if you like your music and your story harder. The plot is somewhat predictable, but overall charming.

Enchanting, Cliched, Dated, Great singing, Fluffy

See it if You enjoy blue grass and phenomenal singing.

Don't see it if You are bored by predictable story lines.

Cast & Creatives (32)