Piano prodigy Marlene Piper hopes to go to music school, but her father’s death leaves her family broke. Longing for adventure outside her small Pennsylvania town, Marlene marries against her family’s wishes. She plays piano in a speakeasy, tours America and falls in and out of love. Through Prohibition and the Great Depression, Marlene struggles to be true to herself and her music. More
In 1922 in the small fictional town of Laurel, Pennsylvania, piano prodigy Marlene Piper wants to attend music school and become a concert pianist. When her father dies and leaves the family broke, she is sent to work on her uncle’s farm. Marlene falls in love with a field hand, David Dunn, and they elope.
Marlene finds work at a speakeasy called The Starfish, playing piano in its house band, The Starfish Seven with three black musicians and three white ones. Unlike the rest of Laurel, The Starfish is integrated and serves illegal drinks to rich and poor, blacks and whites, immigrants and American-born citizens of every ethnic group. Marlene is attracted to Al, The Starfish’s owner and becomes fast friends with Blue Maria, his torch singer girlfriend. Blue Maria takes Marlene to New York City to record an album, Starfish Blues, and promises her travel, freedom and a musical career.
In 1927, Marlene finds a new singer, her high school crush, Robert Schumann. The two of them get married, record an album called Twilight Melodies and tour across America.
After the Depression strikes, Marlene's act with The Starfish Seven and barely supports her family. Will the end of Prohibition and The Starfish also end her career?