This season a group of gifted directors and I were awarded “Outstanding Directors of 2021” in the First Night Awards. What an honor!
Every once in a while, I remember that I had the extraordinary opportunity to direct NFL legend Eddie George in Julius Caesar and I die all over again. What a kind, hard working, and dedicated man. All of my thanks to NSF for the opportunity!
Photo credit Rick Malkin.
I had the extraordinary pleasure to direct Mamma Mia! at Lipscomb University this fall. After almost a year-and-a-half since my last directing job (thanks, covid and cancer), I was nervous that I was too out-of-practice for the huge task. This show is massive with a lot of actors, big dance numbers, and a palpable amount of expectation. However, I found out quickly that the muse returned and I was able to jump into the work, even if I battled more fatigue than usual. The students were extraordinary and the production team delivered. I was so proud!
I chose this show as a response to the dark pandemic times we’ve been traversing. I felt the department and our audiences needed something light and funny. This show also has a lot at heart, and a valuable message about how we can create our future even as we reconcile our past.
It was important to me that audiences left with lighter burdens than when they entered, and I think we were really successful. The show sold out several nights, and audiences gave standing ovations for every show. If you’d like to read our BroadwayWorld review, visit my reviews page. Enjoy these production photos by Sarah Johnson! See more on my portfolio page.
“Without a song or a dance, what are we?” – Thank You for the Music, ABBA
I’m dead. I’m a ghost. Steve Martin tweeted a congratulations to us after we received an excellent review from Jeffrey Ellis on BroadwayWorld. I may never recover!
I had the enormous pleasure of directing Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s bluegrass musical Bright Star this fall at Lipscomb University. This was one of my favorite experiences ever! This musical is about love, loss, and redemption, set against a backdrop of rural Appalachia in the 1920s and 40s. Here’s what I wrote in the program’s notes from the director:
“If you knew my story…”
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s quiet yet powerful bluegrass musical Bright Star opens with these simple words. The main character, Alice Murphy, invites you directly into her life story. “Tell me I’m not alone,” Alice begs, as her memories unfold and the events of her life play out on the stage. The ensemble, like spirits of the past, help her recount the highs and lows of her moving tale.
When I first saw this musical a year ago, I was deeply touched by the earnest detail in which Alice recounts both the beautiful and haunting moments of her life. There’s such power to owning our narratives, isn’t there? In Bright Star, dark and unruly moments are as essential as beautiful ones.
Crafted as an imaginative story inspired by a mysterious historical event, Bright Star travels time and space in an unapologetically sentimental manner to depict sincerely human characters mired in complicated circumstances. Incorporating the traditional instruments of bluegrass music seamlessly aligns this tale set in the heart of Appalachia. No other version of this musical would marry form and content this well. A perfect antidote for cynical times, this musical captures our need for connection, the power of forgiveness, and the human capacity for hope.
I hope that Bright Star fills your heart and reminds you that your story matters, too.
Beki Baker, M.F.A.
Photo credit: Sarah Johnson