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Steve Martin Surprises 'Bright Star' Audience with Guest Appearance at Broadway Musical

By Philip Trapp on May 19, 2016 09:00 AM EDT

Steve Martin made a surprise guest appearance on Friday at a staging of Bright Star, the acclaimed Broadway musical he wrote and composed with singer Edie Brickell. The comedian and musician delighted theatergoers at the performance's second act, sitting in with the show's bluegrass band on his trusty banjo.

The audience at the Cort Theatre delivered Martin a rapturous standing ovation upon his post-intermission reveal. His proficient fingerpicking plainly evident, the entr'acte jam session lasted for just under two minutes. One apt viewer caught the impromptu event on video, footage of which can be seen below.

The Jerk actor conceivably chose the overture passage as the opportune moment to appear onstage, as Martin suggestively disclosed to Vanity Fair that "the end of the first act is so shocking that the audience sits there for a while, stunned. And when they come back from intermission, they're buzzing."

While a gifted and internationally recognized actor and writer, Martin has never concealed his love for playing the banjo. The artist's fans from the 1970s will remember his incorporation of the instrument in numerous stand-up comedy bits. In the 21st century, he has dedicated more time to music than to acting.

To wit, Martin issued his first solo music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, in 2009. With guest spots from the likes of Vince Gill and Dolly Parton, the effort won him a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. He has since released additional collections, including 2013's Love Has Come for You and last year's So Familiar, both of which are collaborations with songwriter Brickell.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Martin spoke of the formative musical influences from throughout his life. Identifying a 1961 LP from the Foggy Mountain Boys as a catalyst for his bluegrass devotion, he recalled the album's propulsive effect on his budding determination to master the instrument:

"When I got interested in the banjo, I just went to a record store and found Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Banjo; when you're interested in an instrument as aggressively as I was, you do everything you can to find out about it."

Bright Star is currently up for five Tony Awards.

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TagsBright Star, Broadway Musical, Edie Brickell, Steve Martin