BRIGHT STAR Opens Florida Studio Theatre's 2019-2020 Mainstage Season

By: Oct. 16, 2019
BRIGHT STAR Opens Florida Studio Theatre's 2019-2020 Mainstage Season

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) opens its 46th Winter Mainstage Season with the Florida Premiere of the uplifting, five-time Tony-nominated musical, Bright Star. Called "A shining achievement" by The New York Times, Bright Star tells a story of love and forgiveness set against the vibrant backdrop of the American South in the 1940s. With Music, Book, and Story by Steve Martin and Music, Lyrics, and Story by Edie Brickell, Bright Star will run in FST's Gompertz Theatre starting November 6.

Bright Star is part of a four-show subscription package. Also included in the Mainstage subscription package is the cross-cultural romantic comedy Handle With Care, the gripping new play American Son, and The Legend of Georgia McBride, a musical comedy written by the Obie Award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez. Subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or

Inspired by a true story, Bright Star follows Alice Murphy, a brilliant literary editor, and Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II. When Billy arrives at Alice's office, hoping to submit his stories for publication, she feels a strange connection with him. Their meeting stirs Alice's longing for the child she once lost, and soon, she embarks on a journey to understand her past. What she finds has the power to transform both of their lives.

"At the center of this story is a loss that irrevocably marks the lives of everyone involved," said Kate Alexander, FST's Associate Director At-Large and the Director of Bright Star. "The characters each have a deep, soulful longing for something. I'm looking forward to honoring and highlighting the extraordinary heart of this piece."

For Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins, there's a larger social context that drew him to choose this Broadway hit to kick off FST's 46th Winter Mainstage season.

"Bright Star reminds us of a time when people were unified by a common cause," shared Hopkins. "Following World War II, there was an uncommon sense of unity and harmony in our country, and this sentiment is reflected strongly in the world of Bright Star. The show is a good reminder of who we were, and who we can be."

Inspired by Brickell and Martin's collaboration on their Grammy Award-winning album, Love Has Come For Me, Bright Star features the vivid, emotional lyrics Brickell is known for as well as Martin's humor.

"It is funny and heartbreaking, beautiful and sad, loving and hateful, and so many other things wrapped up into one," said Meredith Jones, who plays Alice Murphy in FST's production of Bright Star. "Because of its complex nature, the show is authentic and lacks any hint of cynicism or irony."

Bright Star won the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score, in addition to the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. USA Today calls Bright Star "Smart, funny, and charming" as well as "Raw and resonant." Stage and Cinema calls this critically-acclaimed musical "An irresistible tale" that is "Steeped in Southern charm and down-home decency."

Joining Jones is FST newcomer Max Meyers, who is playing Billy Cane. Meyers was part of the national tour of The Buddy Holly Story as well as multiple Off-Broadway productions, including The Christians at Playwrights Horizons. The cast includes three other FST newcomers: Travis Mitchell (Mayor Dobbs), Rachel Mulcahy (Lucy Grant, among others), and Blake Price (Jimmy Ray Dobbs). Mitchell was featured in the national tours of Rock of Ages, Catch Me If You Can, and Spring Awakening. Mulcahy has been part of productions of Once, Shakespeare in Love, and Ring of Fire across the Northeast. Price played Monty Navarro in the national tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Joe Sutter in The Spitfire Grill at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

Returning FST artists include D.C. Anderson (Daddy Murphy), Mimi Bessette (Mama Murphy, among others), Michael Grieve (Darryl Ames, among others), Ashley Rose (Margo), and Bill Selby (Daddy Cane, among others). Anderson was in FST's Mainstage productions of Hairspray and The Fabulous Lipitones, and has performed at regional theatres across the country. Bessette was featured in FST's hit musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder last season, and the Broadway productions of Bonnie & Clyde and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Grieve starred in 9 to 5: The Musical and Beauty and the Beast, before being part of last season's hit Cabaret, The Wonder Years: The Music of the Baby Boomers. Rose was last seen at FST in the 2012 production of Next to Normal. Since then, Rose has played Molly in Ghost: The Musical and Patsy Cline in Always...Patsy Cline. Selby has been featured in multiple FST Winter Cabarets, including Laughing Matters V: Lock the Gates and Older Than Dirt, and has performed in and directed many productions of Forbidden Broadway.

Bright Star opens FST's 46th Winter Mainstage Season, beginning November 6 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. Subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or at

Known as Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Artist, Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman's Club building - now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret, the renovated Gompertz Theatre, the John C. Court Cabaret and Bowne's Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. Under Producing Artistic Director and CEO, Richard Hopkins, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.

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