Joy to the World
Review by Gary Gonser, SFBATCC
Directed by Eric Jackson & Roy Lightner
Musical Direction by Matt Smart
Choreography by Roy Lightner and Dylan Smith
For tickets / schedule :
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Santa Rosa, CA
Transcendence Theatre Company
RUN: December 2-4, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(December 2, 2016)
I was introduced to the Transcendence Theatre Company back in 2004, when they were just starting out. The rumors had it that a small group of dancers and singers were trying to do good shows in the Jack London State Historic Park area in Sonoma. Then, in 2015, we went to their “Broadway Under the Stars” show and were amazed at the quality of the production.
This may be the only holiday show you see this year, but it certainly makes the holidays bright with good dancing and songs to charm the coal out of your stockings.
Singers and dancers with Broadway show experience have moved into town and are bringing their talent to Sonoma. Under the able direction of Eric Jackson and Roy Lightner, Transcendence Theatre puts a show together that highlights the music and dancing of these bright actors.
The cast come into a musical dance number for “The Christmas Waltz” right in the beginning, with high energy and (mostly) synchronized joy to warm the audience up. The music is jazz and the dance is modern: straight from Broadway with a simple background of lights and unique costumes to cheer us all, and we are off.
The show numbers alternate from large tap and jazz dancing, to couples talking about the “Twelve Days After Christmas”, to small groups talking and singing of the many parts of the holidays, romantic and mundane. The show is designed to offer variety and fun for all. There are some traditional Christmas numbers with the whole company, but this is Broadway at its best and “The Challahday Song” brings in the best of the Jewish traditional fun of “Fiddler” with Hanukkah overtones to round out the offerings.
“Joy to the World” finishes the first act with a flourish to include the “fishes in the deep blue sea”, something this reviewer was humming coming into the auditorium in hopeful expectation.
The “Little Drummer Boy” was presented as a full blown tap dance routine in the second act, with backdrop lit with stars and a clear heaven. This was followed by a “Silent Night” with three dancers slowly and quietly following the music with gestures indicating the lyrics in sign language. This juxtaposition of numbers and styles show the youthful imagination and talent of this theatre group.
The New York backgrounds of these dancers come to a head in a full-blown holiday dance line a la “Rockettes” that really rocks. This routine took guts to imagine and skill to pull off with precision, congratulations.
Santa Claus was presented through the eyes of Mrs. Claus, trying to make sure the evening would go smoothly for his journey. His elves came through as well with some quirks of their own. This was a grand introduction to the Season with energy and joy for all, and to all a great night.
For large vision music and dancing, the Transcendence Theatre Company is making its presence known in the North Bay. On March 11-12, they will be at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, and on March 18-19, they journey to the Marin Center in San Rafael. They return to their Jack London State Historic Park summer venue on June 16, 2017, with their Another Openin’ Another Show!.