Live theatre returns to the Center for the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville when the Department of Performing and Visuals Arts and the Platteville Summer Arts Festival presents the musical “Bright Star.” Inspired by the true story of the Iron Mountain Baby, this musical by comedian and actor Steve Martin and musician Edie Brickell features a Tony-nominated blue grass score. The production runs July 30, 31, Aug. 6, and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall.
“Bright Star” tells a story of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the American South, while switching between the 1940s present and the 1920s past. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets Billy Cane, a young aspiring writer and soldier just home from World War II, it awakens in her a longing for the child and the love she once lost. According to Ann Dillon Farrelly, UW-Platteville professor of theatre and director of the production, “This musical is a beautiful reminder of the power of hope, even in the face of overwhelming despair.”
Farrelly is joined on the production team by other UW-Platteville theatre faculty with choreography by Connie SaLoutos Furlan and scenic and lighting design by Jeffrey Strange. Sarah Strange is the costume shop supervisor. The production staff also includes UW-Platteville alumni with musical direction by Lizzie Haller, costume design by Blair Schuler, and sound design by Christopher Kott. Current UW-Platteville students on staff include Grace Trenkamp (stage manager) and Morgan Eitsert (props designer). The cast is a blend of UW-Platteville students, faculty, staff, and alumni and members of the Platteville and surrounding communities. The cast includes Amanda Zasada as Alice Murphy, Kyle Michael James as Jimmy Ray Dobbs, Logan Eigenberger as Billy Cane, Alannah Walker as Margo Crawford, Brent Schwert as Mayor Dobbs, Stephanie Klockow as Mama Murphy, Matt Tompkins as Daddy Murphy, Blair Schuler as Lucy Grant, Tyler Tollefson as Daryl Ames, Michael Black as Daddy Cane, Brady Hattori as Max, Jackson Hemming as Stanford, Isabelle Sander as Florence, and Morgaine Schroeder as Edna. The musical also includes a small pit of musicians who remain on stage throughout. Conducted by UW-Platteville alumna Laura Bee (who also plays piano), other musicians include Chase Pebworth on banjo/guitar, Ann Duchow on fiddle, Masa Iwasaki on percussion, and Danielle Dillon on bass.
“We have gathered together an all-star team for this long-awaited return to live theatre. And I couldn’t think of a better show to celebrate the return of the arts after a long and difficult hiatus,” said Farrelly. “Alice Murphy’s story is the story of survival and perseverance despite the odds. It is about the power of love to lift the veil of darkness. Not too long ago, we didn’t know when or even if we would be back to telling stories for an audience again. Now here we are, at long last.”
Tickets for “Bright Star” are $24 for general admission and $18 for students and children under 18 (price includes the $2 box office fee). The Platteville Summer Arts Festival also offers a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. For tickets, visit tickets.uwplatt.edu or call the University Box Office at 608-342-1298. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. In accordance with CDC and university guidelines, attendees must wear face masks inside the Center for the Arts unless they are fully vaccinated.