‘Bright Star’ opens at GRC Friday

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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The print version of this article that appeared in the Tuesday, April 18, edition of the Sun mistakenly listed Warren Taylor as the author of this article.

Winchester and the comedian Steve Martin probably haven’t been mentioned in the same sentence too often.

George Rogers Clark High School is about to change that.

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“Bright Star,” a musical written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, will be performed by students at the George Rogers Clark Theater from April 21-23.

Friday and Saturday showtimes are 7:00 p.m., and Sunday’s performance occurs at 2:30 p.m.

“The show is set in North Carolina in the 1940s, but it also includes some flashbacks to the 1920s,” said Kris Olson, a music teacher and choir director at George Rogers Clark High School. “It’s a show about a lot of family drama and local rivalries, and the plot thickens from there.”

Specifically, “Bright Star,” tells the story of a thriving literary editor, Alice Lloyd, who meets ambitious young soldier Billy Cain.

Just home from World War II, Cain inspires Lloyd to confront her past.

Characters, both past and present, comprise the story, which features songs such as “If You Knew My Story,” “A Man’s Gotta Do,” “Sun’s Gonna Shine,” and “I Can’t Wait”.

Since December, a large cast of over 40 students has been rehearsing, starting at least three days per week after school.

Both the music – featuring Bluegrass – and performances will cover a broad spectrum and may be unique to those otherwise familiar with the arts program.

“A lot of what our kids might sing in a traditional choral context or their voice lessons may not be Bluegrass much..so from that sense, it’s different,” Olson said. “As opposed to a lot of other Broadway shows, the ensemble is really, really involved. If you have a kid or grandkid who is in this show, whether they’re in a lead role or ensemble role, they’re on stage a lot. This is very demanding for every student.”

At the helm as director for the first time will be John Lawwill, who also teaches humanities and fine arts at GRC.

“I’ve been in many shows on the other side of the curtain. It [is] amazing just to get the chance to brainstorm, create, and … have a team come together,” Lawhill said. “I like seeing them slowly realize the big picture as we give them the different pieces.”

Junior Charlee Wesley plays Alice. It will be her first time playing a lead character.

“It just so happened that the musical was being performed somewhere else. When we went and watched it, we automatically fell in love with the show,” Wesley said. “It’s been fun.”

Senior Emma Hackworth will play Margo, the love interest of one of the characters.

“We’re both vocal majors in the cohort program, and one of the requirements is being involved in the musical in some ways,” Hackworth said. “I’ve been doing theater with all these people pretty much my whole life.”

Of those participating in the musical, not all are necessary on stage.

Junior Chloe Galloway and freshman Belle Galloway, both long-time students at Winchester dance studio Dancer’s Pointe, are choreographing the play.“Getting to choreograph with my peers is really fun,” Chloe Galloway said. “Mr. Lawwill gives me some freedom with choreography. I run by ideas with him, and then I get to teach with my sister.”

“It’s been really fun doing [a] different style of dance,” Belle Galloway said. “I know how [Chloe] choreographs, so it’s been really fun helping her.”

With the spring season, it’s the last time seniors such as Hackworth will perform at GRC.

As one might expect, there are thus some mixed feelings.

“It’s definitely bittersweet…[my] freshman year and my sophomore year, we didn’t get to do musicals because of COVID,” Hackworth said. “I’m continuing theater in college, so it’s more like moving on to something else rather than the end of a chapter.”

However, with some final thoughts, Olson notes that the performance is more than worthwhile.

“‘Bright Star’ is a very fun and powerful show,” Olson said. “It’s great music, [a] really great story, great performances, and people are going to be really moved by this, I’m sure.”