Best of Broadway Under the Stars
Review by Gary Gonser, SFBATCC
Directed by Roy Lightner and Tony Gonzalez
Music Direction by Daniel Weidlein
Choreography by Dylan Smith and Roy Lightner
For tickets / schedule :
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Santa Rosa, CA
Transcendence Theatre Company
RUN: March 11-12, 2017
Extended run at Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, March 18-19, 2017
RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars
(March 11, 2017)
After producing theater and music shows for 20 years, I was pleasantly surprised by the music and dance, rhythms and humor of this show. It is a pleasure to experience good productions again that fill the heart with the great energy that transcends the plodding seasons of shows many theaters are providing these days.
Good Broadway musicals leave you singing your favorite songs as you walk out into the real world. Transcendence takes these wonderful songs, and adds new choreography, costumes, singers and energy to them to bring them alive again. It doesn’t hurt to have a 30 foot thrust into the audience to let the performers sing to you up close and personal. It doesn’t hurt to have 25 professional dancers/singers with big stage experience perform singly and in unison with the best material they can find and arrange. Finally, it doesn’t hurt to have a big band play all the music for the show.
In “Don’t Rain on my Parade”, from Funny Girl, Meggie Cansler sings as she walks downstage with a voice that fills the auditorium with unforgettable sounds and quality that condenses the entire show for us into one song. Follow this with Eric Jackson leading eight men in a signature Fosse jazz arrangement of “Bye Bye Blackbird” that honors the Bob Fosse traditional dance forms while showing us what the flock can do with good dancers.
“I Can Do That”, from A Chorus Line, allows Rachel Thomas a chance to teach an amazing new dancer, Evan Ruggerio, a new tap dance step or two—or is it the other way around? I learned what talent, guts and fortitude can do. Crazy for You gave us “I Got Rhythm”, but with the entire troupe tapping to the music, we get a broad sense of what is possible with this company, and it warms the heart and feet.
Leah Sprecher and Stephan Stubbins do Andrew Lloyd Webber and Les Miserables. Yes, I mean they really do a full medley of both, with irreverent humor and charm.
Forget the strong voices of the two for a minute and focus on the words. Having seen many shows of Mr. Webber and, of course, Les Miserables, I could place all the music. The two sets were amazing, non-stop fun.
Amy Miller, Brad Surosky and Stephan Stubbins are the executive life blood of this company. They started Transcendence as performers who wanted to make a difference in the world. True to form, they continue to dance and sing onstage, appearing as major singers in this show even after five years of guiding the company to new heights. Their dedication to professional quality is obvious.
For large vision music and dancing, the Transcendence Theatre Company is making its presence known in the North Bay. On March 18-19, they journeyed to the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael with a reprise of this show. They return to their Jack London Park summer venue on June 16, 2017, with their “Another Openin’ Another Show!”.