CRITICS’ CORNER: Theatre Review – Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s ‘Bright Star’ Blazes

Jamie McLellan


Adult Alice reunites with Jimmy in a bittersweet meeting.

Zach Long, Co-News Editor, Senior

Bright Star, a musical written and composed by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, was expertly produced by Sock ‘n’ Buskin from April 1-3. It originally reached Broadway in February of 2016, but was overshadowed by the juggernaut of Hamilton which opened the previous August. The last time Sock ‘n’ Buskin performed a musical before a live audience was March of 2019 with the mega-hit Mamma Mia!, and Bright Star delivered a very strong and emotional performance that matched its intensity. This production featured Mr. Jesse Pellegrino’s complex dance numbers with brilliant vocals taught by Mr. George Croom, moments of laughter, moments of tears and of course, flawless staging by Mr. Tom Beck and Mr. Neil Schleifer.

The beautiful stage design by Mr. Joseph Egan transported the audience into southern North Carolina, where a pair of stories intersected through time between the years 1925 and 1945. Billy Cane (freshman Liam Ginsburg) has just returned from serving overseas in World War II. Reunited with his father (senior Aidan Zusin) and childhood friend, Margo (senior Caitlin Winston), Billy sets off on an adventure to become a writer. Alice Murphy, the flint-hearted publisher to whom he brings his stories has a secret past of her own, and as the evening progresses these two seeming strangers discover that they have more in common than they think.

Despite his age, newcomer Ginsburg blew the audience away with his maturity and stunning vocals.

Malia McLellan once again soared as Alice Murphy. Alice is a perfect role for McLellan, showcasing her skills as both a breath-taking vocalist and a versatile actress who was able to transition from a wild, young, flirtatious schoolgirl into a more serious and sarcastic publisher in just a flip of her curls.

Tam filled the shoes of the male lead, Jimmy Ray Dobbs, through his skilled, folksy vocal technique. Portraying such a complex, brave, loving, and frustrated character is no small accomplishment, and Tam was spellbinding as he powerfully and emotionally connected with his audience.

As Margot, Billy’s patient girlfriend, senior Caitlin Winston was yet another standout with her beautiful ballad “Asheville”.

This year, the cast included 12 seniors: McLellan, Tam and Winston, as well as Zach Altschiller, Andrew Kelly, Austin Kelly, Ethan Luce, Samantha Min, Ava Pedorella, Natalie Pursel, Katie Scott, and Aidan Zusin. Each added layer of professionalism to the production with their veteran skill, as they mentored a new generation of underclassmen seamlessly into the SnB family.

Themes of love, heartbreak, redemption, and teenage pregnancy were all displayed in Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s performance of Bright Star.

The musical was a raging success. Sock ‘n’ Buskin is back and Bright Star helped re-light that flame.