After going dark during the pandemic, Woodside Musical Theatre is back with a new name and new production, staging "Bright Star" two weekends in October at the Woodside High School Performing Arts Center.
Formerly known as Woodside Community Theatre, the nonprofit has been around in one form or another since 1957, and organizers said they are thrilled to continue the tradition of putting on musicals with a combination of old and new faces working behind the scene and appearing on stage.
For this show, Gary Stanford, Jr. is artistic director, a role he has filled before. Ditto for Music Director Brett Strader. New to the production side is Vocal Director Renee Lubin, who spent more than 33 years performing in "Beach Blanket Babylon" in San Francisco.
Co-producers Darlene Batchelder, Mark Bowles and Donna Losey, who met as parents at Woodside School decades ago, are back and joined by Brenda Jackson.
Don Coluzzi returns to do lighting, and Akio and Steve Patrick are on the job again to build a major set piece a moving cabin where a 10-piece bluegrass orchestra will sit.
Losey said the company is renting many of the other set pieces, furniture, props and costumes from the Broadway show.
Written and composed by actor and banjo player Steve Martin and singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, "Bright Star" enjoyed a successful run on Broadway and on the road. The musical is inspired by a true love story and revolves around complicated relationships that unfold in North Carolina in 1923 and 1945.
Rehearsals are underway at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, a convenient commute for two cast members, teachers Kara Connelly and Jessica Ross, and Hillview Music Director Richard Vaughan. Vaughan has acted in many shows, but this time is playing cello. It's not so convenient for Katherine Bonn who drives in from Santa Cruz to play one of the leads, Alice. Other leads include Jack Bloome as Jimmy, Jason Mooney as Billy and Michele Schroeder as Margo.
"A lot of people have taken time off, moved away, or have older kids," Losey said, explaining why there's been some turnover in the cast since the group's last show, "Monty Python's Spamalot" in 2019. New in the ensemble this year, for example, is Christine Burke, who is also known as Miss Wheelchair America 2022.
Shows are scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 16 at 2 p.m., Oct. 21 at 7: 30 p.m., Oct. 22 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Understudies will be filling the main roles at the matinee on Oct. 22.
Tickets range from $25 to $55 and are available online at woodsidetheatre.com/bright-star-tickets or at the door at 199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside.