BWW Blog: Libby Servais of Transcendence Theatre Company's 'Broadway Under the Stars' - Gala Celebration Week
As usual, this past week with the Transcendence Theatre Company has been yet another vivaciously exuberant one. Once again, we connected with tremendous sold out and full of life, audiences...but our final performance of "Music of the Night" was unlike any performance I've ever been a part of. Here in Sonoma, California, we had an intense earthquake (6.2 rating) at 3:23 A.M. on August 24th (the early morning of that show).This was the first earthquake I've ever experienced and it truly shook me to the core. In fact, I've never been so deeply terrified in my twenty some years of life. Our entire house was rocking back and forth, paintings were falling off the walls, large bookshelves were tipping over and of course the power went out. The only light I could see came from the terrifying explosions of electrical boxes bursting outside my bedroom windows. I could feel my heart racing and literally thumping out of my chest. The earthquake only lasted about 45 seconds but felt like 45 hours to me. In that short amount of time, I actually saw my entire life flash before me. In tears, I sat trembling and adrenalized, clutching my dog child, Pearl and boyfriend Stephan Stubbins and I realized how we cannot take a single moment on this Earth for granted. Life is so precious.
There was some damage done to wine country from the earthquake but thankfully everyone was unharmed. Our final performance still happened and it was a truly special evening that I'll never forget. Q. Smith even said to our cast during our pre-show circle up that a director of hers once said "understand that this show is somebody's first time seeing a show and also someone's last." That is so true and powerful to think of before stepping foot on the stage. I'll never forget those words! When Stephan Stubbins and I sang "In Whatever Time We Have" after such a life shaking experience, the lyrics spoke even more clearly to me...and I think the audience needed to hear them as well. Such a powerful reminder that we must make the most of every living second we have on this Earth together. Life is so precious and can completely change in less than 45 seconds so we must live it to the fullest, graciously with faith, love and gratitude!
My family had flown in for that show, from Ohio and having them in the audience also contributed to the specialness of the closing night. The following morning, the performers for TTC's "Gala Celebration" arrived!! We had our usual orientation at Jack London's historical State Park. I also spent the morning hiking that park with my family where we found the famous 2000 year old Red Wood tree nestled in along the hiking trails-- so majestic! After the orientation, the TTC company jumped right into rehearsal. Full speed ahead! I must admit, this cast is so incredibly inspiring to me. Sometimes I actually feel like I might be able to fly after being around their collective group energy!
We had our final "Inspiration Initiative" community day on Saturday with Sonoma Valley Teen Services and it was amazing. Many of us shared stories with the teens and mentors about our different life journeys and the unique challenges that have helped make us who we are today. It was so moving to hear everyone's individual story. Evan Ruggiero in particular had me in tears- in fact, he's a super-hero to me. He is an incredible person who is also a singer, actor and one legged tap dancer. I can't possibly tell his story the way he does but you can YouTube him on the Ellen Show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYt3pQ5Lei4 or check out his website: www.evanruggiero.com . He's AMAZING!!!
Another inspiring and magical evening this past week was our final TTC Artist Series concert with Stephan Stubbins and Leah Sprecher's stellar duet show, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mashup" at the brand new amphitheatre at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, CA. I sat with Stephan's wonderful parents in the front of the amphitheatre and laughed my tush off (along with the rest of the audience) at their witty writing and flawless comedic timing. I also wept like a baby when Stephan sang a love song to me from the stage...ah, that night was a mega heart explosion!
We have one week left of rehearsal and then we open and close the already sold out, Gala Celebration shows this weekend. It has been such a tremendous gift to be a resident artist with the Transcendence Theatre Company in wine country all summer. I cannot believe how quickly time flies out here. The days and nights are so rich and juicy here. I am grateful for the strong friendships I've made or reunited with, also grateful for talking with and learning from Ben Vereen (his show here changed my life!), pushing myself to be at least 4% better everyday, for the nature, my family visiting, the amazing community of Sonoma, living with my wonderful boyfriend and meeting his family, having liberating and transcendent moments on stage- that includes the scatting and hip hop dancing from our first show of the season, Broadway kids camp, singing with Stephan, gazing at the stars and moon in the valley, the animals here, getting to use my art as a service every day and truly understanding that that's why I do this, connecting with volunteers, wine tasting, our Whole Foods sponsorship with the free Green juices, being surrounded by like minded artist's and superhero's, the delicious food here, I could go on and on for at least 8 more paragraphs of gratitudes but I'm mostly grateful for the growth I've had as a person and a performer here. Thank you, TTC for existing and for helping me to have the best summer ever!!!! Now, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes that Amy Miller had me read aloud during a cast circle up:
"Sometimes we look for those thunderous things to happen in our lives to change or go in the other direction. We seek the miracle. We seek the parting of the seas, the moving of the mountains. But no, it's a quiet thing. At least for me it was." -Ben Vereen
Stephan Stubbins and I in our backstage "Green room."
Sheri Sanders rollerskating on a rehearsal break- I LOVE HER!
The 2000 year old Red Wood tree at Jack London State Historical park, with Pearl!
I love Eric Jackson.
Highlights from "Music of the Night." Photo by David Wells
Final performance of "Music of the Night." Photo by Marjorie LeWitt.
The Gala cast and crew! Photo by Marjorie LeWitt
The Servais family came to closing night!!
From This Author Guest Blogger: Libby Servais