a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Bright Star 1Carmen Cusack2Four Stars!+++ This year’s Outer Critics Circle winner of Best Musical “Bright Star” now has its’ Original Cast CD available and it’s a beauty!Dreamy, hypnotic, superlative, this gem of a recording captures everything that is great and swoon-worthy about this stupendous, original show. Music and lyrics by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, who are now my favorite Bway duo. And their great leading lady, Carmen Cusack’s magnificent voice wails, swoops and soars into Bway history as she makes her astounding Bway  debut.

Country and Western, too, since “Bright Star” is first and last a bluegrass musical. I have to admit to not being a fan of this well-worn genre, but now I am! That’s how transportative the music of “Bright Star” is! And if you’re already a country and western afficionado, well, “Bright Star” will be right up your Nashville alley!

The story of a young woman in the earlier part of the last century living in the rural South and trying to find herself, and love, in a society that can only be called repressive, I am so glad to report that “Bright Star”s trills and thrills have all been carefully and lovingly recorded for posterity, and you’ll be able to listen to its’ musical joys over and over again. As I’m doing right now.

It’s the soundtrack of a life and starts with the killer “If You Knew My Story” which introduces the full throated Ms. Cusack right at the top of the show, wailing in her husky, mesmeric contralto and leaning against the porch post of her A-frame shack that’s about to spin her and us into Musical Comedy history.Bright Star 3

The level of achievement of all involved is so high, it’s breath-taking. I cried my way through the first act the last time I saw it, and I can’t help listening to Carmen Cusack’s  rueful, country wail without thinking of the tragedy that awaits her stalwart, brave character.

And did I mention that Steve Martin and Edie Brickell Bright Star 2wrote this wonderful, catchy, plaintive music that never veres far from the banjo Martin is so proud of playing at the drop of a hat. “Bright Star” justifies this mystifying transition of his. From stand up comic to great Bway composer. I want to go out and buy all their CDs  now. I’m a fan. And “Bright Star” Original Cast will make you a fan, too.

Carmen Cusack is not alone in her musical whirl. Paul Alexander Logan and A.J.Shively also shine as the young men in her life, and all sing like there’s no tomorrow.

“Way Back in the Day”, “Bright Star”, “The Sun Is Gonna Shine Again”, “I Am Blinded” and “At Last” all soar and are so darn catchy, you’ll be humming all of them in your head til the cows come home. And this is from a critic who was born and raised in the Bronx!

# Bright Star CD

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