Review Theatre

5 Bright Stars for WAAPA’s 2nd Year Musical Theatre

Bright Star is a real-life story from a collaboration between folk-singer Edie Brickell and comedy actor, Steve Martin. Having worked previously together on the Grammy Award winning Blue Grass album, they took to Broadway with their sound and story – landing on the stage in 2016. 

Five years later, Bright Star shines at the Roundhouse Theatre, being performed by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts current second year musical theatre students. 

Jayne Smeulders leads the choreographic charge with a history at the West Australian Ballet, and now as esteemed lecturer at the Academy. Movement is as palpable as the voices, with cast taking to the stage with dance and blocking. Under the guidance and talent of Craig Dalton, the Musical Director, the brilliant orchestra with strings and authentic southern instruments shift from the sight lines to the stage, integrating themselves with cast and audiences. 

Pictured: Campbell Parsons (Jimmy Ray) and Madeleine Betts (Young Alice Murphy)

Madeleine Betts (Young Alice Murphy) holds a powerhouse vocal range that chimes with her southern belle aesthetic and whimsy – mirrored in Brittany Carter’s performance (Mature Alice Murphy) whose voice reverberates throughout the Roundhouse with pain, beauty, and determination. Campbell Parsons and Jackson Britza (Jimmy Ray and Billy Cane respectively) accompany the vocal talents of Betts and Carter, sounding like smoked leather and honey.

Accents are solid and continuous, strong in every musical note and delivery. There is not one moment when the cast are out of synchronicity, and from start to finish, the second years are a symphonic cast who hold lyrical symbiosis throughout.

Not quite left on a cliff-hanger at the end of act one, the audience is allowed some breathing room after various powerful scenes and emotionally captivating performances. Once the banjo and violin start back up, the second act nicely ties together all the plot points, leaving nothing unsaid, or unfelt – including a masterfully written twist that left audiences speechless. 

From script to stage, Bright Star is a stella performance that could not have been possible without the immaculate work from all departments; including the amazing design teams that constructed a multi-faceted set, to the lighting and stage crews, and lastly (but not least) the cast and musicians that bring the heart and soul to the production.

Pictured: the full cast of Bright Star – WAAPA 2nd Year Musical Theatre

Adam Mitchell’s telling of Bright Star continues to electrify the Roundhouse Theatre until 18 November, tickets are selling fast in one of the Academy’s most stunning, and enthralling performances this year!

Chief Editor, The Independent Press Co.

Production Images provided by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, taken by Stephen Heath Photography

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