Bethel theater to feature "Bright Star", a musical on growth
The combination of music and theater represents a concoction of art which embodies the qualities of the visual and auditory senses serving the purpose of storytelling. As a non-musician, and poor connoisseur of the theatrical arts, one thing remains clear; good musicals create an immersive experience, in which the audience follows the quest of the protagonist conveyed in song. In this sense, the immersive quality of a musical achieved through the decor of the sets, lighting, musical accompaniment and the characters themselves, creates a hypnotic blend of emotions synonymous to a dream. The Bethel community will soon have the opportunity to delight in the performing arts with the upcoming Bethel adaptation of the musical Bright Star written by Edie Brickel and Steven Martin.
While Karen Robu Assistant professor of communication arts /Director of theater, takes on the intricacies of managing the musical, from overseeing the sets, lighting, scripts and actors, Bill Eash Professor and chair of music / Director of choral activities, takes on the helm of musical accompaniment for the performance. The musical will incorporate “Southern Appalachian folk sounds, with an ensemble composed of the mandolin, the guitar, the fiddle, the banjo ,the double bass and two keyboards” said Bill Eash. The country folk feel of the musical will effectively encapsulate the emotional tension of the themes illustrated in the musical.
The musical is set in 1923 and also follows the growth of the main characters within the span of thirty years in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Themes for the musical include: “redemption, love, finding one’s way in a world of small town values, a controlled youth by adults.” said Bill Eash. While the themes of the musical incorporate elements of a coming of age story, audiences can expect to witness character growth, by following the protagonists' youthful flaws and how such flaws are reflected in their later adult lives, whereby reputation and success in a small community is also a key determiner of the characters’ development.
“First of all I am one of the two male leads, Jerod Kaufman being the other. I play the role of Jimmy Ray, a boy who goes through some unique hardships early in his life. Jimmy is a hopeless romantic, he is cunning, smooth yet stubborn and a little rebellious. This has been a fun musical to block and I’m very much looking forward to packing out the house come opening night!”Said Seth Rudeen, a leading role in the musical. One makes sense of the youthful tension of this character.
“My character is Billy. He's a younger guy that's trying to make it big in the writing industry. He runs into some problems at work and in his romantic life, but overall he's a happy and optimistic guy who's trying to grab the world by the tail.”Said Jerod Kaufman, one of the leading roles in the musical. Thus audiences will observe the dilemma faced between youthful love and career aspirations.
In addition to its storytelling and auditive qualities, theater production for the musical will draw viewers into the world of Appalachian folk, not only through the visual contributions of set decorations, but also through the real time support of stage managers, who will be operating behind the scenes.
“This musical takes place a while ago so a lot of that time period will go into the set design, costumes, props and furniture. As stage managers our job is to keep track of all the aspects of this show going on behind the scenes. Things like when set pieces will be moved on and off, sound and light cues, taking notes of stage directions and choreography. During the show we will be off stage calling cues and making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes so that our cast looks great on stage.” Said Emily Guldner, stage manager for the musical. Stage management, the lifesource of any musical, will enable the audience to truly internalize the impact of the themes presented. Finally, while general snippets of the musical are presented in this article, true appreciation for Bethel’s adaptation of Bright Star emerges from the uniqueness through which it will unfold. The significance of combining the musical arts with the performing arts is that it creates a sense of intimacy, for the audience, with the story or themes being presented. While theater has the power of connecting an audience to a historical or fictional setting, music possesses an almost hypnotic presence as it enables the audience to experience the emotional journey of the characters. The musical will show on three dates: on the 25th of March, at 7:30 pm, on the 26th of March, at 7;30 pm, and on the 27th of March at 2:00 pm.