Bright Star: Do yourself a favor, go see this show

Published 11:52 am Sunday, March 5, 2023

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It’s worth it just to watch Bill Campbell dance around in a drunken stupor.

And it doesn’t hurt that the Brock Players’ newest production includes the captivating voice of Nicole Gonzales, who plays the title role in “Bright Star,” which continues on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon at the Brock Performing Arts Center in Mocksville.

Go see it. It really is worth the price of admission. The talent is amazing. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat. And the ending … well, you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.

This is coming from someone who can appreciate, but doesn’t really like and rarely attends live theatrical performances. To top it off, Bright Star is a musical. Musicals have never been my thing, on the stage or the screen.

But the music here is different. Mona Jo Griffin on banjo, Charles Bowman on fiddle, Ricky Naylor on bass, Jamie White on guitar and Bobby Wood on fiddle make you  tap your feet. It was amazing how they – and pianist Kristin Sakamoto – kept the music going without interfering with the performers. They worked together brilliantly.

Whether it was director Michael Cheek or someone else, but whoever picked the cast was on point. Not only did the cast members perform their parts well, they seemed and looked just like you would expect.

Bright Star hit home because it includes the story of an aspiring writer, and his boss in Asheville, NC who was from Zebulon, NC. I worked in Zebulon for about a year, with a window that looked onto Main Street. So I could envision the young star growing up there in the 1920s, of getting into trouble there. Expect to hear other Tar Heel names during the production, which was written by Steve Martin (Yes, that Steve Martin.) and Edie Brickell (Yes, that Edie Brickell.).

So do yourself a favor. Go see Bright Star. You’ll not only be supporting local, live arts – but your heart may just become a bit larger – in a good way.


The Brock wasn’t the only place I saw some live music last weekend.

The Red Daisy Festival in Downtown Winston-Salem didn’t disappoint, with plenty of jam music from The Grass is Dead (Think Greatful Dead music on bluegrass instruments), The Kind Thieves and Hotwax & The Splinters (You may remember them from playing at Junker’s Mill.). The sun was shining, the beer was flowing, with music everywhere. A good vibe all around.

It was part of the celebration of Doc Watson’s 100th birthday, featuring Billy Strings for two nights at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum. I was late hearing about that, and couldn’t get tickets to suit me. But Red Daisy helped fill the void. One thing I learned, Billy Strings has a Grateful Dead-like cult following. It made people watching very interesting.

Thank you to the sponsors; proceeds went to the Morehead School for the Blind.

Doc Watson is a true North Carolina legend. I had the pleasure of seeing him in 1977 at the Grandfather Mountain Music Festival, a couple of years later at the Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn., which was like hearing him play in your living room, and most recently in the 80s or 90s (The memory ain’t what it used to be.) at The Brock, sponsored by the Davie County Arts Council.

His guitar picking and singing should be celebrated every year, not just on what would have been his 100th birthday. I can only imagine hearing Billy Strings (Perhaps one of the most talented musicians out there these days.) picking that guitar and pouring out a soulful Doc Watson ballad. Music like that isn’t just for the ears and brain, it gets into your soul.


The point here is to get out and see some live arts. Even if it’s out of your comfort zome, take a risk and go anyway. You might just have a good time.

– Mike Barnhardt