BWW Feature: Choctaw High School Presents Southern Story of Hope BRIGHT STAR

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BWW Feature: Choctaw High School Presents Southern Story of Hope BRIGHT STAR
photo by Drew Prater

One of the most touching, memorable and powerful stories ever to grace the Broadway stage is Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's Bright Star. A coming of age story, and a "Southern story of hope", Bright Star follows Alice Murphy both in her teenaged years, growing up in 1920s North Carolina, then later as an adult and newspaper editor. When an aspiring writer from her hometown shows up at the office of The Asheville Southern Journal, seeking employment, Alice is taken down memory lane and the painful path that brought her to Asheville. Based on the 2013 album Love Has Come for You by Martin and Brickell, Bright Star has true Southern bluegrass, love, loss, pain, and promise. It's beautiful, and moving, and once you see it, you won't soon forget it.

Choctaw High School's Fine Arts department is one of the most prestigious high school arts programs in Oklahoma. They're the first high school in Oklahoma to produce Bright Star, and it's sure to be a heart-rending production.

Program and Production Director Maryjane Burton says "I saw the Oklahoma premiere of Bright Star at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and was just blown away on so many levels. I can't begin to tell you how honored I am that we are the first to bring Alice's Murphy's story to an Oklahoma high school stage! This musical is layered with such a rich tapestry of characters, lyrics, and storytelling...and will go down as an absolute favorite to direct. It has been especially rewarding to observe actors of all ages 8 - 60+ embrace the time period and fall in love with the characters and music of Bright Star...except one character of course."

Assistant Director Justin Larman agrees, saying "Being a professional actor and coming back to my former high school and having the opportunity to work with high-schoolers has revitalized and formed a new passion of mine- directing. It fills my heart with so much joy watching these students put their blood, sweat and tears into this production. Mrs. Burton was my high school drama teacher and now, having the chance to work alongside her, sharing the knowledge she has taught me and adding in my own advice or vision is such a gift that I am very blessed to have been given. The arts are definitely alive and well here at CHS!"

Larman continues, "I think the students are most excited to be the first high school students in the state to bring the beautiful story of Bright Star to life on stage. This material is incredibly challenging for such young actors, but they have risen to the challenge and continue to work hard to bring the gorgeous text and songs to fruition. Being an actor myself, it is all about storytelling. I think the students are excited to be able to tell this story and share this beautiful message of redemption, love, and above all, hope."

Burton adds, "I adore that our students are embracing this rare opportunity to be part of such a unique theatrical experience at the high school level. We [Choctaw High School] produced Next to Normal two years ago, and I think my anticipation and excitement is similar regarding the audience's reaction to Bright Star. I can't wait to hear the gasps, see the emotions, and feel the euphoria as they experience Choctaw-Nicoma Park School's production of Bright Star!"

Ryleigh Andrews plays Alice Murphy, and she answered a couple of questions about her role. Answers below:

AP: Congrats on playing Alice Murphy!! What do you love most about this wonderful, strong female character?

RA: I love Alice's ability to take the tragedy in her life and use it to manifest relentless faith, hope, and goodness. Alice has reminded me that there is strength in forgiveness and that ultimately, love endures all things.

AP: Besides Alice, what is a dream role you hope to play someday?

RA: Ever since I saw the animated film Anastasia, I have been enthralled with her character. So to play Anastasia would be a dream!

* * *

Bright Star, presented by Choctaw High School, stars Ryleigh Andrews as Alice Murphy, Brenden Coplen as Jimmy Ray, Garrison Brown as Billy Cane, and Rachael Mosshammer as Margo Crawford. CJ Craig is Mayor Josiah Dobbs. The role of Lucy Grant is played by Mikaylee Rogers and Lexi Sendall on alternate performances. Cutter Acker and Sonny Tabor alternate in the role of Daryl Ames. Adam Bass is Daddy Murphy, Julie Kendrick is Mama Murphy, and Carson Brockett is Daddy Cane. Landon Rhodes is Stanford, Bob Burns is Dr. Norquist, Alyx Sabina is Edna, Anna Dewey is Florence, Josh Craig is Max, and Isabel Baker is Well Dressed Woman. Chris Burns and Jacque Hogue alternate in the role of Clerk.

The Sprits are Cutter Acker, Isabel Baker, Josh Craig, Anna Dewey, Kaiya Downer, Autumn Hudgins, BobbieLynn Jones, Dalton Lewis, Landen Rhodes, Mikaylee Rogers, Alyx Sabina, Lexi Sendall, Will Shepard, Ethan Swartz, Sonny Tabor, Ella Whitlock, and Max Whitlock.

The ensemble is made up of Sarah Abrahamson, Maddi Brown, Bob Burns, Chris Burns, Emery Font, Elizabeth Goforth, Maggie Herriman, Abigail Herrin, Aubrey Herrin, Aubrey Hoag, Jacque Hogue, Jared Malan, Savanna Mazzalongo, Kryste' Miller, Maggie Sapp, Addison Smith, Makaylyn Smith, Triston Smith, Sara Stover, Nora Whitlock, and Will Whitlock.

Maryjane Burton directs and Justin Larman assistant directs and choreographs.

Bright Star runs February 21st - March 1st at Choctaw High School's Performing Arts Center, 14300 NE 10th Street, Choctaw OK, 73020. Tickets are available at the box office or online at

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From This Author Adrienne Proctor