University Players, an IU student-led theater company, premiered “Bright Star: Concert Version” Saturday at 8:30 p.m. There were limited in-person seats at the Hamilton Lugar School South Lawn, but the show was also broadcasted on BookTixLive. The show was co-directed by seniors Kyle Mason and Taylor Ward.
“Bright Star” is about Alice Murphy's journey through life as the story alternates between her at the age of 16 and 37. The story is about the people Alice meets and the relatable hardships she encounters, sophomore Cynthia Kauffman said. Kauffman plays Murphy, the lead character in the production.
Tickets for each in-person production were limited to 25 people. Tickets went on sale Monday at 5 p.m. and in-person tickets all sold out in less than ten minutes, Kauffman said.
“I think people are eager to be back out and see live theater,” Kauffman said. “As exciting as it is for us to perform live theater again, it's really cool to see that the audience is just as excited.”
Kauffman said “Bright Star: Concert Version” means the show is condensed into an 80 minute production that features only the songs of the show and cuts out the spoken scenes. Kauffman said the concert version made more sense for UP because of the outdoor venue and live orchestra.
There were supposed to be three shows, one on Friday and two on Saturday, but the 7 p.m. Friday show and the 2 p.m. Saturday show were canceled due to rain, said sophomore and cast member Hannah Zeldin.
Mason said due to scheduling reasons, UP can’t reschedule the canceled in-person performances. However, people who bought tickets for the livestream of those shows were still able to watch a broadcasted performance of the dress rehearsal, Mason said.
“It's less disappointing that we don't get to perform in front of some people,” Zeldin said. “It's more just disappointing because we put so much hard work and we all want to see each other shine in the show.”
Mason said he enjoyed directing “Bright Star.” With a lot of underclassmen in the cast, he said it was wonderful to watch them start their college musical theater careers as he is ending his. He said he is happy with how Saturday's performance went.
“Although the rain tried its best to cancel the last show, we persevered and the show went really well,” Mason said. “Both my co-director and I felt like the cast was giving it their all because they hadn’t been able to perform two other performances, so they really gave 150% for their last run.”
Kauffman said the cast rehearsed 7-10 p.m. in-person, Mondays through Fridays for six weeks. Rehearsals were held in Ward’s basement and everyone followed COVID-19 guidelines of wearing masks, taking temperatures and frequently sanitizing props and sets, Kaufman said.
As a way to promote the show, Zeldin did an Instagram takeover on the UP Instagram page on Tuesday. She said the organizations hosted a contest last month where the cast member who got the most people to attend the virtual Country Cabaret would get to do an Instagram takeover. Zeldin said she convinced a lot of her family members to attend the event.
Zeldin said this was her first time doing an Instagram takeover. She said it was a lot of fun as she answered questions, talked about the show process and then interviewed fellow cast members before the dress rehearsal.
Kauffman performed “Into the Woods” in February in front of a live audience, but this is Zeldin’s first time performing in front of an audience since the pandemic started. She said it is so special to have people reacting to art.
“I forgot what it felt like to have actual live reactions to things that you were doing,” Zeldin said. “You take that for granted, but seeing an audience and hearing them laugh and clap, it just feels like fuel for performers to do their best work.”