Musical to shine like a 'Bright Star'May 6, 2021
By CANDY NEAL
The outdoor setting that encases the Lincoln Amphitheatre is an appropriate backdrop for the early-1900s musical “Bright Star.”
That is a big reason Southridge High School is performing this musical at the amphitheater this weekend.
“Bright Star” will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And the cast and crew hope that people will spend a part of their Mother’s Day weekend at one of shows.
“It’s a perfect story for Mother’s Day weekend,” said junior Abbi Hall, who sings in the ensemble and plays a spirit and a younger version of the main character. “It brings tears. I have cried during practice.”
“Bright Star” is a fictional story set in the 1920s and 1940s, but stems from a true story.
See a gallery of photos here
According to a portion of the musical’s synopsis, “ ‘Bright Star’ is the story of one woman at two different points in her life: the first, when she is a wild young thing growing up barefoot and carefree in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina; the second, when she is a well-to-do magazine editor in Asheville, 22 years later. Her story is inevitably woven with that of an idealistic young man named Billy, with whom she shares a mysterious connection.”
But there are unexpected twists throughout the musical. “It’s a complicated story,” said junior Devin Carter, who portrays the train conductor and sings in the ensemble. “You have to watch it to really understand it.”
And then there are the visual and musical aesthetics.
“It’s bluegrass, just beautiful music,” said Shane Denu, theatrical director. “And in this beautiful setting, we knew it was the perfect place to have this musical.”
Denu, Music Director Erich Kendall and Lighting Director Andy Hoffman talked about the amphitheater months ago, realizing that having the production at the high school auditorium would be a challenge this time around.
“When COVID happened, we knew it would not be a great experience to have it in the auditorium,” Kendall said. “The kids would probably have to wear masks. There weren’t probably going to be a whole lot of people who could come see it, because we would be at 25% capacity, so there would be only 100 people allowed.”
They checked and found out that Lincoln Amphitheatre was open Mother’s Day weekend, and booked the venue. After that, they considered musical options. “We narrowed it down to a couple of musicals that we knew would fit the space,” Kendall said. “That space is so individualized, you can’t just do any musical there.”
“Bright Star” fits the outdoor, woodsy venue. And to have a show about a mother’s challenges held the weekend of Mother’s Day is an added bonus.
“It just kind of happened that way,” Kendall said. “We had to pick a time that the amphitheater was available, and that was only a couple of weekends. And then we had to pick a time where we’d have plenty of time to practice, and when we knew it wouldn’t be too cold to be outside.”
Once they realized the appropriateness of their weekend choice, “Andy, Shane and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is perfect,’ ” Kendall said.
The cast and directors worked on the musical for a couple of months before moving practice to the amphitheater this week.
And the students were in glee when they arrived at the stage on which they would perform. Devin, who was in a previous musical, “Cinderella,” at the school, was in awe of the venue.
“I remember all of us walking in the first time, while we were moving stuff,” Devin said. “And we all just stood here and looked around. It’s so cool. Being here is awesome.”
The cast and crew have been practicing all week from 5 to 9 p.m. And for many, the practices happen soon after other school commitments.
“I’m at school 12 hours a day,” said ensemble member Brenna Brosmer, “because I have softball practice after school, and then musical practice. We’re at school (activities) until 8:30 or 9.”
The sophomore said that being a part of the musical, her first in high school, is worth the work. “Just to see all the hard work that we’ve put in over the last couple of months just come together, it’s so worth it,” she said. “It’s a very good experience.”
Sophomore Sidney Layton, who is also in the ensemble, said she’s glad Kendall recruited her for the musical. “It’s been so much fun,” she said. “And I’ve grown closer to everybody here.”
Kendall said the students’ hard work makes “Bright Star” great entertainment for anyone, and the venue allows them to be entertained in a safe and theme-appropriate environment.
“People have been really searching for something positive over COVID,” he said. “If they want something positive to see, these kids will give that to them.”
“Bright Star” will be performed at the Lincoln Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m. Ct Friday, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Ct Saturday and 1 p.m. CT Sunday. To order tickets, go to www.southridgetickets.com.
There are more than 50 students involved in the cast and crew. They are listed below.
Bright Star cast and crewAlice: Maddy Songer
Featured Dancers: Dori Sherer, Devin Carter
Billy: Richard Gutierrez
Daddy Cane: Cole Wirthwein
Margo: Ellie Bowman
Government Employee: Jenna Kendall
Max: Micheal Hasenour
Florence: Alexis Emmons
Daryl: Jose Nunez
Lucy: Calista Martin
Jimmy Ray: Tyler Laughlin
Daddy Murphy: Luke Trout
Mama Murphy: Skyla Hayes
Maids of Mayor House: Sara Hughes, Shaylynn Neher
Mayor: Wyatt Sherer
Stanford: Brayden Reimann
Edna: Karly Barnett
Dr. Norquiest: Dori Sherer
Spirits: Karly, Jenna, Penelope, Abbi Hall, Erika Meece
Bag Grabber: Luke Trout
Train Conductor: Devin Carter
Well Dressed Woman: Penelope Roy
Ensemble: Ella Bailey, Sylvia Brichler, Brenna Brosmer, Ally Buening, Christian Calderon, Devin Carter, Christian Carter, Ellie Cox, Caitlyn Frick, Arrington Hartke, Sara Hughes, Paige Kemp, Erica Kratzer, Sidney Layton, Shaylynn Neher, Lucy Schwartz, Reece Tretter, Angel Nunez and Gracie Stassel
Back-stage Manager: Jake Wibbeler
Back-stage crew: Sierra Hume, Emmett Garland, Olivia McClain, Max Rasche, Anthony Laughlin, Lindsey Echeverria, Kimberly Echeverria, Micheal Kerr, Randi Moeller and Garrison Sickbert
Musical Director: Erich Kendall
Theatrical Director: Shane Denu
Technical Director: Andy Hoffman
Choreographer: Molly Rupert
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