**UPDATE 2** Staff Spotlight Part 1: Courtney DeGennaro

McGuire Wood & Bissette Staff Member and Actor Courtney DeGennaro Lands role in Rabbit Hole

McGuire Wood & Bissette Staff Member and Playwright Courtney DeGennaro


*UPDATE 2* 8/12/2018 BROADWAY BOUND – Courtney, Sean and the rest of the cast boarded airplanes early Sunday for NYC. This is it! They begin their performances this week after countless rehearsals over the last few months. Break a leg everyone!! To see pictures of the rehearsals and other fun stuff check out Courtney’s Facebook page here

Also a great article on their play in the Mountain Express here

*UPDATE 1* 6/28/2018 GREENSBORO — The Drama Center of City Arts and Events has chosen “Starbright” by Sean David Robinson as the winner of the 2019 New Play Project and Mark Gilbert Award. Read More here. Way to go once again Courtney and Sean. See you at the Tony Awards soon!

From time to time this newsfeed will include a closer look at our staff and attorneys. The posts will be on topics not necessarily about the law but about what is personally important to our Firm members outside the office. This is the first installment of our staff spotlight as we feature a great story from Real Estate Legal Assistant Courtney DeGennaro. It is amazing to discover something extraordinary about a person with whom you work. Courtney and her husband Sean are following their dreams and passions and making it happen. The Firm is so proud of you! Thank you Courtney for sharing your story and thank you for being so professional to write it in the third person! (that’s adorable)

Theatre: From an Off-the-Clock Hobby to an Off-Broadway Adventure

Courtney DeGennaro, one of our legal assistants at McGuire Wood & Bissette, will be taking her off-the-clock talents to New York City this summer as the lead actress in the world premiere of a new play, Starbright. The play will be performed in the Off-Broadway 14th Street Theatre as a part of the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in August.

An active member of the Asheville theatre community and board member at Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, Courtney has been passionate about theatre for as long as she can remember.

“Some of my earliest memories are of singing a terribly bawdy song from the movie Beaches for my parents and their friends when I was five or six years old,” she recalls. “I had no idea what the words to the song meant, but I knew that it made everyone laugh, and I now realize that feeling – making someone else feel something so real, was addictive.”

Her parents noted her love for the art, and soon her summers were spent, not on beach vacations or at theme parks, but at weeks-long intensive acting camps. At 15, she left her traditional high school to attend an exclusive performing arts conservatory in Greenville, South Carolina, where she was classmates with future Tony-award winners and television stars. But when the time came to choose a path for college, Courtney opted for the academic track rather than the theatrical, attending Emory University in Atlanta. Nonetheless, she maintained an active involvement in the theatre, performing constantly and taking classes on acting, writing, and film at every opportunity.

Since moving to Asheville in 2011, she has found that Asheville’s thriving creative community has breathed new life into her love for theatre. Not only did Asheville introduce her to a wealth of incredible community theatres, it also introduced her to her husband, Sean David Robinson, who she met onstage in a production with the Montford Park Players. Since then, the two have been passionate collaborators, acting together, directing one another, and forming a writing and editing team.

This is how Starbright came into being, written by her husband, who then entrusted her with the editing process.

“She’s the only person I can trust with my work,” said Robinson. “She’s brilliant, thorough and tough on me. She won’t just tell me it’s good when it’s not. You can’t buy that level of honest critique. She’s the reason this play is as good as it is — the reason why it’s heading to New York and not still sitting in my desk drawer.”

Starbright is one of 14 never-before-produced plays selected from over a thousand submissions to premiere in the festival, which was developed as a launch pad for new works into the Regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway circuits. Last year’s productions were attended by thousands of industry professionals and theatre lovers in New York City. One condition of the festival is that writers who submit are not allowed to direct or act in their own work. To address this a local director was hired and tasked with bringing the show to life.

This, according to Courtney, was a relief. “If Sean had been directing, I don’t think I would have auditioned,” she said. “But without that conflict of interest, I was free to pursue the part. I’ve come to know and love this character so deeply as we’ve created her story. I’m honored to get to bring her to life.”

Courtney will play Grace, an astronomer and grieving mother who lost her young daughter Abby nearly a year before the start of the play. As Grace’s life spins out of control, Abby appears to her and begins making predictions about the movements of the cosmos. Grace must determine if her daughter’s appearance is a sign of her dwindling sanity, or proof that there’s more to the universe than even she understands.

Her co-stars include Matt Burke, a regional television and film actor who will portray Grace’s husband, Calvin, and newcomer Selah Atwood, who most recently appeared in the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Atwood will portray Grace’s daughter, Abby.  

The play will be rehearsed here until August, when the actors, director, and playwright will travel to New York City for the premier.  They hope to remount the show for a North Carolina premier after they return.

Starbright Cast

Starbright Cast

You can go to their website where you will find links taking you to the theater festival site and the chance to get tickets for the NYC show. There is an excerpt from the play there (it’s good) and if you are so inclined a link to their Go Fund Me page that will help pay for the expenses of moving people and stuff to New York over the summer.

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