By David Templeton
Every summer, since 2012, the Transcendence Theatre Company takes over the gorgeous, open-air winery ruins at Glen Ellen’s Jack London State Historic Park, for a months-long series of shows succinctly and appropriately called ‘Broadway Under the Stars.’ Generally, the show features Broadway tunes (and others), performed by an energetic troupe of Broadway performers, staging effervescently inspiring and entertaining shows as the sun sinks and the stars begin to shine.
Blending dance, comedy, melody and impressive showmanship, Transcendence performances frequently pack the place, selling out night after night.
“It’s a very special experience,” says actor-singer Lexy Fridell, of Avenue Q and The Pee-Wee Herman Show. Fridell recently moved to Sausalito after years in Sonoma wine country—and a few energetic stints in Los Angeles and New York. “I’ve performed all over,” she says, “but there’s nothing quite like doing a Transcendence Theatre show.”
The giddy group of singers and dancers—under the artistic direction of Amy Miller (a veteran of Broadway’s 42nd Street revival)—is hitting the road and moving indoors, touring the North Bay with a show called ‘Best of Broadway Under the Stars.’ Featuring performers from Wicked, Mary Poppins, The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Mamma Mia!, the show comes to the Marin Civic Center on Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19.
“Transcendence is just really pumped to bring their energy to different parts of the Bay Area,” Fridell says. “People from Marin … people who maybe haven’t had a chance to come up to the park and see one of the outdoor summer shows, maybe this will be their first experience with what a Transcendence Theatre Company, ‘Broadway Under the Stars’ show is all about.
And, what is that like?
“You kind of have to experience it to get it,” Fridell says, laughing. “It’s about the energy of creativity, and the beauty of music and the inspiration of people who have a big dream, that want other people to have big dreams, too. And we share all of that through some really great, awe-inspiring songs—and some really goofy, silly stuff, too.”
As per the name, the show will be an array of the best moments from past seasons of ‘Broadway Under the Stars.’
“I don’t think I’m supposed to say what’s in the show,” Fridell says with a laugh. “I can say that I’m doing my personal favorite song, ‘Party Dress,’ from the musical Henry and Mudge, which I did in my first Transcendence show. There will be some awesome medleys, the epic 10-minute excursions through a certain type of show or style, a mash-up or two and a lot of people’s favorite songs from classic musicals, and a few newer ones.”
According to Fridell, the Transcendence team is counting on the experience being as addictive for the Marin audiences as it has proven to be for the performers themselves.
“Hopefully,” she says, “people will get excited enough to come up to Jack London, and experience one of our outdoor shows, right there under the stars, where it all started.”
‘Best of Broadway Under the Stars,’ Saturday, March 18, 7:30pm and Sunday, March 19, 2pm, Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael; $39-$69; VIP, $129; 415/473-6800.