As the name implies, BroadwayWorld celebrates all things theater, with daily coverage of Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, and international theatre productions.
Recently, the 2020 BroadwayWorld Regional Awards also celebrated the best in local theatre over the past decade. In the San Francisco region, Sonoma County-based Transcendence Theatre Company has received 14 awards, including Theatre Company of the Decade.
“We’re so grateful,” Amy Miller, Transcendence Theatre Company Artistic Director, says. “There’s a feeling of pride. It’s not just for the company and the individuals, but for the entire community. We all built this up from a field in a state park.”
Transcendence Theatre Company, a nonprofit arts organization, marks its tenth year of productions in 2021. The company became known for its “Broadway Under the Stars” series that takes place in Jack London State Park.
The park almost closed in 2011 due to budget cuts. When Miller and the other founding artists of Transcendence Theatre Company moved into the park, they worked with community sponsors, donors, nonprofit groups and volunteers to provide the park with the funds to stay open.
The “Broadway Under the Stars” series regularly features performers who have appeared in Broadway productions. Of those performers, Dee Tomasetta and Meggie Cansler Ness, who both appeared in “Those Dancin’ Feet” in 2019, won the Dancer of the Decade award and the Performer of the Decade award respectively.
Also from 2019, Transcendence Theatre’s production of A Chorus Line won several BroadwayWorld Regional Awards. Those awards include Director of a Musical of the Decade (Amy Miller), and both Set and Sound Design of the Decade (Michael Kramer and Nils Erickson). The show also earned Vocalist of the Decade (Natalie Gallo), Best Ensemble, and Production of a Musical of the Decade.
“It’s my favorite show of all time, and it has guided my entire life,” Miller says about A Chorus Line.
The musical is also the first full production of a show that Transcendence Theatre Company was able to produce for “Broadway Under the Stars.” The series normally offers musical revues and original productions based on songs from several shows and films.
“It was the show we wanted to do for our opening season in 2012,” Miller says. “The fact that it took so many years to do made it this triumphant experience for the whole community.”
“We brought together a dream team of cast and crew to do that show, and it was magnificent,” Brad Surosky, Transcendence Theatre Company Executive Director, says. “To see it win all those awards is pretty cool.”
Transcendence Theatre Company also won the award for Arts Educator of the Decade, Best Theatre Staff, and Best Youth Theatre Camp/ After-School Program of the Decade.
Longtime patrons and new fans recently viewed many productions from Transcendence Theatre’s first decade of shows, as the company transitioned to an online format last summer.
With Jack London State Park closed due to the pandemic, Broadway Under the Stars” became the “Best Night Ever Online.”
The digital series featured four multi-media compilations from the company’s past, all captured on rarely-before-seen videos.
Transcendence Theatre also adapted to the Drive-In Theater model for its socially distant holiday presentation last December. Those shows combined video compilations with live hosts performing for in-car audiences at outdoor settings.
“It was very successful,” Miller says. “We had over a hundred thousand viewers. The community could step back and look at all these moments of inspiration and what we built together. What is the potential on the horizon to inspire people all around the world now that we are digital?”
With the pandemic’s horizon still unclear, Transcendence Theatre made several contingent plans to present theater live and/or online in 2021.
“We’re going to be forever in the virtual world,” Surosky says. “So we will have virtual offerings and shows all throughout the year, as well as being back in the park and having live performances. That is the hope.”