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Steve Martin’s ‘Bright Star’ musical coming to Hilton Head Island this week

McKenna Shaw of the “Bright Star” cast.
McKenna Shaw of the “Bright Star” cast.

When Charles Isherwood of the New York Times reviewed the opening performance of “Bright Star,” a musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell when it premiered at the Old Globe theater in San Diego in 2014, he talked about the intricate storyline, its theme of darkness and light, the balanced blend of both, and especially the shining achievement of the winsome country and bluegrass score.

“Bright Star,” he points out, promises astonishing musical vibrancy along with a close up look at love and redemption. There is a song in the second act, he adds, which will remind us all that no matter what, “Sun is Gonna’ Shine, Again.”

So, clearly, when our Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute’s “Bright Star” opens on Hilton Head Island July 26, featuring SSTI‘s young performers from across the globe, you must look forward to that brilliant score by Steve Martin ... yes, that Steve Martin ... and Edie Brickell, with lyrics by Ms. Brickell and the book by Martin.

Direction and choreography is by Broadway’s Joe Barros and scenic design by Broadway’s Libby Stadstad. You’ll remember that they were the team who recently brought audiences SSTI’s smash hit production of “Cabaret.”

The fascinating storyline will capture your attention and hold you in thrall as the plot unfolds. Actually, two love stories come together in the most unusual way.

All of the play action is set against the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina during two decades of the 20th century ... the 1920s and ’40s. It tells the story of a young soldier and a literary editor, and issues she faces about a child she once lost. She is haunted by their unusual connection, and she sets out to understand her past. What she finds, I must tell you, has the power to transform their lives.

Look forward to the emotion in the telling of the story, the dancing and music that weaves throughout the evening ... the banjo, fiddle, piano playing, too, as the tightly wound, captivating, musical performances come to life on our stage.

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

Steve Martin is well known on so many levels. I remember him on “Saturday Night Live,” even doing stand-up in the 1970s. And through it all, he played, and continues to play, his banjo at every opportunity. Add to that impressive list, that his musical talents expanded to the extent that he earned a Grammy for best bluegrass recording and established a bluegrass and banjo prize in his name.

I should mention here, too, that the multi-talented Martin is also an accomplished writer, screenwriter, actor, producer and art collector. Martin’s connection with Brickell, an award-winning folk singer, occurred several years ago when he collaborated with her on a collection of songs called “Love Has Come for You.”

SSTI founder and director Benjamin Wolfe said that when he saw this musical on Broadway a couple of years ago, he fell in love with the music and the story ... and he knew it had all of the ingredients to be a hit with Hilton Head audiences.

If you go

What: The regional premier of “Bright Star a New Musical” produced by Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute.

When: July 26 and July 27, 7:30 p.m.; July 29, 2 p.m.; Aug. 2 and Aug. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 4, 2 p.m.

Where: Seahawk Cultural Center at Hilton Head Island High School, 70 Wilborn Road.

Tickets: Adults $25, students $20. Tickets can be purchased online at www.HHISummerMusicals.com or by calling 866-749-2228.

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