Stage: Transcendental Meta-Motion

Transcendence troubadours sing and dance more than a dozen Broadway hits up yonder at Jack London park in Glen Ellen 

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Transcendence Theater Company - Dress Rehearsal 8-1-2018

Transcendence Theatre Company’s seventh season of Broadway Under the Stars continues with a dance-centric production titled, appropriately enough, Shall We Dance. The show runs through Aug. 19 at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen.

Director Leslie McDonel and choreographer Marc Kimelman guide a cast of 17 talented artists through a program featuring songs from 18 Broadway shows like The King and I and Hamilton, as well as pop hits from artists like Madonna and Ed Sheeran. The (mostly) fast-paced, 40-minute first act includes numbers from In the Heights, West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Kiss Me, Kate; the highlight is an energetic production of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” that incorporates a variety of dance styles. Things slow down with “Mama Who Bore Me” from Spring Awakening, which seemed tonally out of step in a mostly joyous program, before concluding on a lighter note with the hilarious “A Musical” from Something Rotten.

Act two features dancing set to numbers from a diverse group of artists ranging from Janelle Monáe (“Tightrope”) to Madonna (“Vogue”). The evening’s most visually striking moment comes courtesy of a tango-infused production of the Police’s “Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge with the winery ruins bathed in red.

For a company that imports a great deal of its talent from New York, the relatively small number of artists of color in the cast is disappointing. Simply put, it’s jarring to have Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Michael Jackson’s “Bad” sung and danced by a bunch of white guys, talented as they may be. It’s time for Transcendence’s cast to be as colorful as the costumes they wear.

‘Shall We Dance’ runs Friday–Sunday through Aug. 19. Jack London State Historic Park. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Doors open for picnicking at 5pm; show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets $45–$150. 877.424.1414. transcendencetheatre.org.

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