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'Bright Star'

Jan. 25—QUINCY — Quincy Valley Allied Arts will tell a story of love, bad choices, their consequences and ultimate redemption starting Friday night. "Bright Star" will run for three weekends, with a matinee Feb. 10, at the Quincy High School Performing Arts Center, 403 Jackrabbit St.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2 and 3, and Feb. 9. A matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 10.

Director Brian Higgins said he was attracted to the story by the journey taken by the characters.

"The story of the show is so sweet," he said. "It's a story of loss and redemption and remorse, and I think that's something everyone can connect to."

"Bright Star" actually is two stories, the first being the tale of young Alice Murphy (Rachel Marie Powers in the QVAA production) in the summer of 1923. Alice has taken a liking to Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Riley Youngers), who likes her too, despite the disapproval of their parents. But then things take a turn that causes Jimmy Ray's father (Steven Asay) to do something terrible.

In the summer of 1945, Alice, now an editor, meets Billy Cane (Taggart Hodges), a World War II veteran and aspiring writer. Billy has been encouraged by his friend Margo (Hailey Beegle) — who has taken a liking to him — to submit his stories to Alice's journal. But is there a surprising, and redemptive, tie between Billy and Alice?

Higgins said the characters go through some dark days.

"But the redemption arc in this is very strong. There's a lot of conflict with families, with parents, we lead to redemption; conflict between romantic partners that we lead to redemption," he said.

"My mom, I told her, 'You've got to make sure you come back for act two, because you're going to want to leave at the end of act one,'" he said. "But at the very end of the show, the payoff is huge."

The play was written by actor Steve Martin and singer Edie Brickell. Martin also is a well-known bluegrass musician and Higgins said the show's bluegrass score presents a challenge, one musicians in the Columbia Basin met and mastered.

"It's bluegrass, very good bluegrass too. I did not believe we could find a great bluegrass band just sitting around in the community," he said.

He looked for a good bluegrass band in Wenatchee, where he lives, he said, and didn't find it.

The challenge is one of the reasons the show appealed to the QVAA board, Higgins said.

"I think the biggest thing that attracted them was we said we probably couldn't do it," Higgins said. "And then the board really wanted to take on a big challenge. And they said, 'Well, we think we have the musicians to put on a bluegrass band, and we think we have the actors, so let's just try for it.' They are 100% for challenging themselves."

Higgins directed the QVAA production of "Sister Act" in 2022. A Quincy native and 1998 QHS graduate, he said the QVAA board is right about the talent in the Columbia Basin.

"I love working with the musicians, the people that are cast in the show. I had such a good time working with them two years ago," he said. "I love that there is so much talent in Quincy and the surrounding communities. And I love that the shows and the talent that happen here are just as good as anywhere else."

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.