Two love stories. Foot-stomping blue grass music. A tragic train ride. A boozy evening at a post-WWII nightclub. And, a happy ending that eclipses all happy endings. That’s Bright Star. Written and composed by ([surprisingly)] long-time collaborators, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Bright Star has a story that speaks to your heart, and a score that toggles between enchanting you and making you want to jump up and dance in the aisles.

Photo by Jenna Roche. Tatum Roche, and Jeremy Finn

But, that’s not why you should go see Bright Star, this weekend. You should go see it because of the kids. We are all so very happy to be back on the sidelines of the soccer field, waiting at the bus stop, and enjoying Grandma’s dinners. Normal now feels like Disneyland. Likewise, your community theater will feel like Broadway.

A true hidden gem in Bethel is its youth theater program run by ERA Productions and offered through the Bethel Parks and Recreation Department. While you’re signing up for yoga, camps, tiny tots, or basketball, there is a group of parents who are eagerly awaiting the announcement of new theatrical productions and—sometimes—even waiting up until the wee hours of the morning to sign up their kiddos.

Photo by Jenna Roche. Allison Mele, Riley Finn in the foreground. Deanna Sutton and Miles Snyder in the background.

It’s very unusual to have such quality youth theatrical experiences affordable and accessible. But, Bethel has does just that. The kids on the Bright Star stage have been nurtured through years of spotlights and instruction in this treasured program. And, it truly shows.

The show is directed by Anthony DePoto, an Adjunct Instructor of Theatre Arts at the very well-regarded School of Visual and Performing Arts at Western Connecticut State University. It is co-directed by Joey Calabrese and choreographed by Cynthia Rivera, both recent theater grads from WestConn and rising stars in our area. Stephanie Gaumer brings her many talents to the musical direction. And, our very own Erin Volpintesta—our local champion for the performing arts who has at one time or another taught almost every musically-inclined child in town—is deftly serving as artistic producer.

Photo by Jenna Roche. Riley Finn and Miles Snyder.

Go see Bright Star this weekend. The fifteen kids from Bethel, Redding, Danbury, Brookfield, and New Milford have been working tirelessly three nights a week to make this a show that Bethel can boast about. Get immersed in the story and feel the irrepressible joy that these kids exude being back singing, dancing, and acting under the lights. Bethel has the best audiences—let’s show up in droves.

Performances are at Bethel High School tonight, Friday 11/5 at 7pm, and on Saturday 11/6 at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Photo by Jenna Roche. Miles Snyder, Jeremy Finn, Dylan Ellis.
Photo by Jenna Roche. Floor: Dylan Ellis, Jeremy Finn. Background: Deanna Sutton, Curtis Rodriguez, Joey Hrubes, Miles Snyder. Foreground: Allison Mele, Riley Finn.
Photo by Jenna Roche. Foreground: Allison Mele and Riley Finn. Background left to right. Deanna Sutton, Willa Zalaznick, Joey Hrubes, Sophia Allen, Curtis Rodriguez, Laura Weiss, Cassandra Williams.
Photo by Jenna Roche. Left to right. Left to right. Willa Zalaznick, Curtis Rodriguez, Joey Hrubes, Laura Weiss, Victoria Lyon.

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