BWW Blog: Libby Servais of Transcendence Theatre Company's 'Broadway Under the Stars' - Music of the Night
After Ben Vereen's legendary show here at Transcendence Theatre Company, we TTC artists are continuously reflecting on the cherished wisdom and inspiration that Ben has left deeply rooted into our hearts. One moment in particular that I continue to think about is when I asked Ben if he was excited for his show and he replied with a gigantic grin and both hands in the air, "I wake up excited! Everyday!" I also surrendered my hands into the air and said "Me too!" And then I realized that I was standing outside a vineyard of grapes, giggling with Ben Vereen about how we must live each day to the fullest... Later he also shared with our company, "Don't knock em' dead. They're already dead, knock em' into life!" Those epic words will stick with me forever. Basically, when I grow up, I want to be like Ben Vereen!
With Ben's inspiration, we continued on to have a phenomenal opening weekend of our "Music of the Night" concert. Our audiences are claiming that "Music of the Night" is our best Broadway Under the Stars concert yet. They've noted that this one in particular is delivering an overall message that ignites something powerful within them. After our opening night performance, I hugged one of my favorite patrons who has grown to be a great friend and mentor of mine. He was so deeply moved by the show and I noticed the gentle tears sneaking out from under his glasses as he held my hands and repeatedly said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am left speechless." He explained how this show inspired him and made him feel alive. Knowing that he is not the only one that walked out of the theatre feeling this way makes me ecstatic!
Something that community members continue to thank our company for is our pre-show involvement. Our "pre-show picnic" time is outstandingly special and something that I truly love about TTC. Family's and friends arrive around 5-7:00 PM to picnic on the grand and festive lawn just outside of the majestic, open air theatre. They gather under twinkle lights, sitting on hay bails and picnic tables, listening to local musicians play, eating from local food vendors and tasting wine from many of our amazing host winerys. Audiences also takes time to socialize with our company members that float about the theatre grounds prior to the show. We typically have 6 actors stand at the park entrance on the greeting committee to welcome each audience member into our field of dreams. There are also cast members helping our amazing volunteers at the box office, merchandise booths and wine pouring tables. I get to sell the drink tickets to patrons. It's very exciting to talk with the audience members before the show as it creates an automatic connection that I graciously carry with me as I step onto the stage. For that night, we are all there to lift each other up!
Our dynamite creative team has truly taken us to new heights with "Music of the Night." We were led by our director, Jaclyn Miller and music director, Katherine Lounsbery who have both helped us to create a truly transcendent show. One extremely powerful moment is when we sing "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park with George as a dedication to Greg Hayes who passed away this summer. Greg was the president of the board of the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association when it made the leap to take over operation of Jack London State Historic Park. All of the music chosen for this show has an important and positive underlying message to share with the audiences whether it be "Actions Speak Louder than Words" from Tick Tick...Boom! or "Run Freedom, Run" from Urinetown. They all serve their purpose in the show flow. Another bonus for my romantical self is getting to sing with my boyfriend, Stephan Stubbins. I was overjoyed when I found out we would get to sing together this summer. We're singing "In Whatever Time We Have" and as he and I sing this every night, I understand the lyrics more and more clearly. The lyrics speak to everyone that is living in that exact moment with us. Realizing this, Stephan and I don't just harmonize longingly into each others eyes, we take the audience in with us as we sing Stephen Schwartz's beautiful lyrics, "We could live a hundred years, or the world could end tomorrow...but we know we'll be together in whatever time we have. From this day forward nights won't seem so black. From this day forward we will never look back. In whatever time we have, we will make the most of time and at least we'll be together in whatever time we have."
The entire show is filled with special moments that go above and beyond the usual limits and I am beyond grateful to be a part of it. We only have one weekend left of this concert until we start rehearsals for our final Gala Celebration concert. This summer is flying by but I am savoring each and every last second!
Broadway Under the Stars. Photo by Sherry Lambert
Q. Smith leading the cast in "Dancin' in the Street." Photo by Mimi Carroll.
Morgan Karr and cast singing "Sunday." Photo by Manuel Merjil
Gorgeous scenery provided by Mother Nature. Photo by Hannah Anagnostou
Nic Dromard and Desi Davar celebrating the finale with the famous lift from "Dirty Dancing."
The cast singing "Tonight" from West Side Story. Photo by Hannah Anagnostou
Desi Davar and Nic Dromard. Photo by David Wells.
Desi Davar leading the company in All That Jazz. Photo by David Wells