Bluegrass and the Blue Ridge Mountains soon take over the main stage at the Fort Salem Theater in Bright Star, the Grammy and Tony Award-nominated hit Broadway musical written by comedian Steve Martin and acclaimed songwriter Edie Brickel.
The heartwarming yet heartbreaking story takes place from September 30 to October 9; tickets are on sale now at www.FortSalem.com ranging from $15 to $36.
Based on a true story, Bright Star tells a story of love and redemption against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and 1940s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier who has just returned of the Second World War, he awakens her ardent desire for the child she has lost. Haunted by their unique bond, Alice embarks on a journey to understand her past and what she discovers has the power to transform both of their lives. With beautiful melodies and powerfully moving characters, the story unfolds like a rich tapestry of deep emotions. An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you firmly in its hand, Bright Star is as refreshing and authentic as it is boldly hopeful.
“After the production of Next to Normal last season, audiences begged us for another musical with emotionally challenging and challenging material,” executive and artistic director Kyle West explained. “Bright Star is a perfect fit for our community, who will not only deeply feel Alice Murphy’s journey, but also fall in love with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s powerful Americana/bluegrass-style score!”
Greenwich’s Courtnie Harrington plays Alice Murphy. An audience favorite, Courtnie has appeared in the Fort Salem Theater productions of The Diary of Anne Frank (Edith Frank), Pride And Prejudice (Lizzy) and There’s No Business Like Snow Business. Courtnie recently returned to Washington County after graduating from the Institute of American Musical Theater in New York. While in New York, she starred in Hudson Classical Theater’s Sense and Sensibility (Charlotte Palmer), Antony and Cleopatra (Iris) and Pride and Prejudice (Lydia), as well as Alpha NYC’s production of Peter and Wendy . Other local credits include Songs For A New World (Woman 2) by the Schenectady Light Opera Company and Ariel in The Little Mermaid with Family Players of NENY.
Guest artist Matthew Clemetson makes his Fort Salem Theater debut as Jimmy Ray, a role he recently performed at the Red Barn Theater in Indiana where he also appeared in Murdered To Death (Thomskins). Matthew is a graduate of the American Musical Dramatic Academy Acting and Voice Conservatory NYC. Regionally, he starred in Newsies (Jack Kelly) at the Crane River Theater in Nebraska and the Virve Theater in St. Louis, Songs For a New World (Man 1) at the Grand Center Arts, and originated the role of Johnny Roger in Off-Broadway’s The Birthday Boy. At the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Matthew performed alongside American Idol and Broadway star Fantasia Barrino on his concert tour. He also appeared on ACT of Connecticut’s New Works series and starred in Godspell (Jesus) and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Schroder) while in college.
Noah Casner returns to the Fort Salem stage as Billy Crane, having recently starred in Grease (Doody), Next to Normal (Gabe) and There’s No Business Like Snow Business. Noah holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute and the Experimental Theater Wing. His stage credits include Spring Awakening (Moritz) at the Weathervane Theater, where he also performed in White Christmas, Sister Act and Bright Star, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (William Barfeé) at the Spa City Theater, and Parade (Frankie/ Young Soldier) at the Strasberg Institute. He has participated in the development of many premieres and new works and short films.
Rounding out the cast are Peter Bailey (known as both pastor of Coila Church and lead singer of local band Simple Beggars) as Daddy Cane, Jared West (FST’s The Diary of Anne Frank and Pride and Prejudice) as the role of Daddy Murphy, Ethan Drinkwine (FST’s Pride and Prejudice and Grease) as Mayor Josiah Dobbs, Luke Miner (FST’s Grease and The Diary of Anne Frank) as Daryl Ames, Emily Jenkins (FST’s Grease) as Lucy Grant, Maureen Cossey (FST’s Little Shop of Horrors) as Mama Murphy, David Braucher (director of FST’s The Diary of Anne Frank) as Dr. Norquist, Peyton Vanderheyden (FST’s Grease) as Florence and Quinn Donaldson (FST’s The Diary of Anne Frank and Grease) as Max. Arianna Dreher as Margo Crawford, Chandler Hansen as Stanford, Sophia Belden as Edna/understudy Margo & Lucy and Daniel Cormie (2022 Jimmy Awards ‘Best Supporting Actor’ finalist) in the role of Ensemble/understudy Billy & Max.
Bright Star is directed and choreographed by New York native Dennis J. Clark, born and raised in New Hartford, NY. Dennis received a BA from the State University of New York at Geneseo in Music – Vocal Performance, Musical Theater and Communications. He has performed, directed, and choreographed across the United States for regional theaters, touring productions, outdoor amphitheaters, and various other venues. As a performer, Dennis has toured the country and performed locally in lead roles in Singin’ in the Rain, A Chorus Line, White Christmas, Crazy for You, Blood Brothers and John and Jen to name a few. name a few. Dennis is also an accomplished teacher having taught and directed for Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA and Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills. Dennis is a proud member of Actors Equity and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Most recently, he completed his tenure as Artistic Director of The Ritz Theater in Sheffield, AL. Dennis is Vice Chairman of the Fort Salem Theater Board of Directors and performed at the Salem Under The Stars concert last season.
Music Director Berry Ayers is a transgender musical theater artist, music director, director, choreographer, writer, comedian and model. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in Musical Theater, she traveled the world performing on stages from LA to New York and on every continent that has a stage. She spent five years as The Naked Maid in Naked Boys Singing and toured nationally as Paul in A Chorus Line, as well as regional credits as ZaZa/Albin in La Cage Aux Folles, Edna in Hairspray , Harold Bride in Titanic, Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q. , Dave in The Full Monty, Miss Deep South as well as Miss Bible Belt (for 3 years) in Pageant, Sylvia St. Croix in Ruthless!, George in The Drowsy Chaperone, Tito Morelli in Lend Me A Tenor and Jinx in both Checkered and Checkered Forever News. As Music Director, she has worked on The Who’s Tommy, Footloose, Legally Blonde and Beehive, to name a few. She starred in the short film titled Pie Car with Starfruit Productions, an official selection of MINDY Film Festival in Miami, Dumbo Film Festival in New York, Sarasota Film Festival and Lady Filmmakers Festival in Beverly Hills, now available on Amazon Prime . She was a frequent co-host and guest on daytime television with ABC7’s Suncoast View. Her comedy tour of the famed Ringling Museum made The New York Times and she performed on comedy stages on a national tour. She has hosted performances for Nielsen Ratings and performed for the American Theater Critics Association’s 2020 Annual Conference where Frank Rizzo, theater critic for Variety, called her “…so much fun.”
The creative team is rounded out by Charles JI Krawczyk as scenic designer, Amy Collins as stage manager and Kyle West as producer.
Bright Star performs Friday, September 30 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, October 1 (7:30 p.m.), Sunday, October 2 (2:00 p.m.), Friday, October 7 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, October 9 (7:00 p.m.). 30) and Sunday October 9 (2:00).
All tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at www.FortSalem.com or by calling the Fort Salem Theater box office at 518-854-9200.