Meet Kimberly Powers, Guest Scenic Designer of “Bright Star”

Featured: Kimberly Powers

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. As a kid, I would play Barbies with my sisters, and I would do their hair, make up their “houses,” and give each of the dolls a background story…and then I would quit. I found that setting up the story was far more interesting than living in the story itself. I drew pictures a lot as a child, wrote a play, and designed the scenery on sheets in my grandparents’ backyard, etc. When I got to high school, I participated in activities like Odyssey of the Mind – again, designing scenery and costumes for our performance/problem solving session. I also got into theatre in my sophomore year, where I helped with set construction. In fact, until I took a set design class in college, I thought that the set designer was just the high school art teacher – not an actual profession where people paid you money to draw pictures!

Q: Where did you receive training? How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?
A tiny liberal arts school in Ohio named Ashland University, where I received my B.A. My M.F.A. was earned at Kent State University, also in Ohio. I have also worked under and with amazing designers, prop artisans, and scenic artists at some pretty incredible theatres. These people believed in and invested in me, and I try to pass that on to younger artists and designers where I can. For what it’s worth, I still feel as if I am in training. There is always more to learn and ways to grow, and every person I work with helps me develop as an artist and a human just a little bit more. I am grateful for everything I have been taught in school, on the job, and in life.

Q: What productions did you previously set design for Charleston Stage?

I was the guest scenic designer for Mamma Mia! and, most recently, Elf The Musical.

Q:  What are you most excited about that audiences will experience with your designs for Bright Star?

I think, if our plans work, the scenery, costumes, and lighting (along with the music, of course) will coalesce to allow the audience to just really immerse themselves in the story and enjoy an evening of beautiful theatre.

Q:  Tell us a little more about yourself.  

I live in Fayetteville, AR, with my husband and (almost) 6 year old son. I was designing 12-14 shows a year before Covid. The pandemic pushed me toward doing more fine art, volunteering in my community and, like many parents, becoming a home school teacher. I have a few design jobs right now and am keeping my fingers crossed that they are still going to be able to happen. I hope that the industry I love can bounce back quickly with everyone’s help – by getting vaccinated! My work can be viewed on my website at  

Bright Star performance run September 11th – 26th at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, click here.

Meet Sam Henderson, Resident Music Director and Director of Music Education

Featured: Sam Henderson

Q:  What is your full-time position with Charleston Stage?

I am in my tenth season as the Resident Music Director and Director of Music Education here at Charleston Stage. My duties with that position are to oversee all musical aspects of our productions and classes including:  preparing casts vocally, preparing and conducting our live orchestras for the MainStage musicals, accompanying rehearsals and performances on piano, teaching or overseeing music teaching in our TheatreSchool and Troupe classes and camps, and providing vocal coaching to our Resident Actors and students. I also typically direct at least one show per season as well as our 6th-12th grade SummerStage show each July.

Q:  You are the Music Director for Bright Star. What makes the score for this production so unique? 

The score for Bright Star is very different than anything I’ve ever done in musical theatre. Bluegrass music is something I’ve long been a big fan of, but I’ve not had the opportunity to work on anything bluegrass in the past. This style of music brings a few new and exciting challenges. Vocally, the style is quite different from contemporary shows (Footloose, etc.) that mostly lean towards a pop-rock vocal style or the classics that lean more towards a classical singing style. Also, this show calls for instruments that I rarely get the opportunity to work with (banjo, mandolin, accordion, etc.) and therefore I’m working with a few musicians that I’ve never worked with before. It’ll be great fun for us all to get together and bring all of our different experiences and skill sets together to pull off this BEAUTIFUL score.

Q:  How many band members are in the orchestra and what instruments will audiences expect to hear throughout the score? 

We have 9 players in the band, including myself on piano and melodica (which is a new instrument to me), my assistant conductor also playing keyboard and accordion (he also had to learn this for the show!), and a full bluegrass band with:  banjo, mandolin, multiple guitars, fiddle, bass, percussion (including actual bones and spoons!) and even a cello thrown in there for some of the more lyrical moments. The score is really the heart and soul of this show, and we couldn’t imagine even attempting it without the authentic sounds of these instruments for which it was written. In addition to hearing these brilliant sounds, audiences will be able to see all the action with all 9 band members on stage for the whole show.  Julian and I felt very strongly that this was important because of the huge role the score plays in the show, but also because bluegrass is a largely visual musical style.  Seeing the energy and excitement that goes into making this music come alive is just as important as hearing it.

Q:  How has the process been with the cast and learning this music? 

Working with this cast on the music for this show has been a dream. It is one of the most capable and professional casts we’ve had from top to bottom. The leads will blow you away with their singing, but you’ll notice the ensemble (either on stage or off) in almost every song. They provide the texture and support vocally that will leave you with chill bumps throughout the show.

Q:  What are you most excited about that audiences will take away from Bright Star?

The thing that excites me most for audiences to take away from this show (in addition, obviously, to the gorgeous score and wonderful story telling) is the appreciation for a new, original show. So much of what is coming off of Broadway now is just adaptations of popular movies, etc.  It’s so nice to get to present a piece that is a new story with new characters and new songs that people don’t already know or have preconceived notions of.

Bright Star performance run September 11th – 26th at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, click here.