Based on a true story, Bright Star – this year’s spring musical at George Fox – tells the tale of Alice Murphy, weaving together two different timelines of her life: 1923 and 1945. When she meets Billy, a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for her lost child, launching Alice on a journey to uncover and understand her past.

“Soaring Appalachian music leads us along with Alice on a journey of hardship, resilience, and miraculous hope and healing,” is how Director Ben Tissell describes it.

Perseverance, love, growth and identity. These words capture what Bright Star, a bluegrass musical written by Steve Martin, is all about. Yes, Martin plays the banjo. And the theatrical Appalachian music he wrote for this show with Edie Brickell was even nominated for a Tony.

Performer sitting on a cabnet talking to anotherThe play opens on Thursday, March 7, and runs March 7-10 and March 14-17, in Wood-Mar Auditorium. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. (Thursdays through Saturdays), with matinee shows at 2 p.m. both Sundays. You can get more information and purchase tickets on our Box Office webpage (university employees get one complimentary ticket, as do students for Thursday performances).

It’s a musical written by a famous comedic actor, which might lead you to believe it’s probably hilarious. It is. But while this show does not lack for hilarious, entertaining characters and musical numbers, it has its fair share of depth and challenging material.

 “The show is a beautiful story of love, heartbreak and perseverance, with a lot of fun music and characters,” says Graham Buyagawan, who plays Daddy Cane. 

Director Tissell chooses to produce stories of redemption. “Good stories, like life, can go through some dark places,” he says. “But I believe that reality, as defined by the cross of Christ, ultimately bends toward healing, hope and beauty.”

Using this metric, Bright Star is a very good story!

Many of the show’s cast find themselves leaning on the communal aspect of the musical.

“It is a beautiful story of community and hope, which is something we always need more of in this world,” says Noah Keener.

 Amid dysfunctional families, at the center of the story, characters grapple with loss and find comfort and redemption in unexpected relationships. As expressed by actor Austin Shelton, “There’s this sense of a community growing and learning and trying to move on.”

Come for the music and the story; leave encouraged and filled with hope for a brighter future.

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