BWW Blog: Eric Jackson of Transcendence Theatre Company's 'Broadway Under the Stars' - Celebrations

July might have just begun, but let me tell you things are in full swing here in Sonoma, CA. Just recently at Transcendence Theatre Company we started a new show, closed the first show with a bang, actively participated in volunteering opportunities, and joined in our local 4th of July celebrations. But I'll let some of our Transcendence resident artists go into more detail about their personal favorite activities of these past well-lived days.

Rachel Louise Thomas has had a great couple of weeks:

On Wednesday June 24, Transcendence performed its very first indoor concert at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Boy, was that a dream; and a dream come true at that. During our traditional pre-show circle up, our artistic director Amy Miller talked about how this was TTC's first indoor concert since their performances at The Gertrude Pearlman Theatre in Punta Banda, Mexico; which, just in case you haven't been following the development of Transcendence Theatre Company these past 6 years, that's where they officially first opened their heart exploding vision to the world. Cut to June of 2010-that's when I first heard about Transcendence. I was performing in a show in Branson, as well as having my own visions of sugarplums and now, Transcendence dance through my head. Flash back forward to the moment on 6/24/15 when Amy mentions Oh, What A Night being the first indoor concert since Mexico; you can imagine the serendipitous and surreal emotions that went through my brain. I think one thing that's awesome about practicing being "present" and "in the moment" is the added layer of gratitude that shapes that very moment. Which brings me to my next "dream come true".

The following Monday (June 29th), I had the most amazing opportunity to see Ben Folds in concert at The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts; like, the very venue I just performed in a few days prior. And here's the kicker, co-executive director Stephan Stubbins and I got to accompany Jeff and Donna of Nelson family of companies backstage to meet Ben afterward. So here I am watching one of my heroes, a VIM (very important musician) explode my heart with his creative genius skills via piano, lyrics, and drums (yes, Ben is an exceptional drummer #themoreyouknow); and on the very stage I had just performed on. Oh, and then afterwards I got to once again head back to backstage where we had our pre-show circle up, and wait outside of Amy Miller's dressing room, where Ben was residing. I felt like I saw my life circa 1999 to present day flash before my eyes. I walk into the dressing room with the ever awkward intro of "Hi Mr.Folds!" The four of us take a few selfies and photos with Ben, then Stephan and I, then just Ben and I; where I once again awkwardly say "Ok Ben, let's just look cool." Hashtag STARSTRUCK much?! I closed my time with Ben Folds by being brave and mentioning how much I enjoyed his work as a judge on NBCs, The Sing-Off. I told him I thought that he, Sara, and Shawn were a groundbreaking dream team for competition reality shows with their extensive knowledge of the human voice and constructive, yet positive criticism. I felt as an audience member, I even learned something just from their approach to this. And that was that. I left the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts once again feeling giddy with serendipity and surreal gratitude. Just another day of "living the dream" in Sonoma. **Le Sigh**

Last week began our adventures in our Fantastical Family Night concert! We had a splendid orientation filled with motivational words, new friends and fun discoveries-like the Skink lizard our Fantastical music director, Lilli Wosk, found while walking from the ruins to the picnic tables. Of course I immediately looked up the animal totem for the little dude, and to sum the description up, the key word was "Dreaming." How apropos for our concert and upcoming Transcendence Kids Camp! Just based on orientation and the day of rehearsal I was a part of, let's just say this concert is going to take your spirit, imagination and creative energy waves to such great heights!

Meggie Cansler also had a spectacular fourth of July:

Oh, what a night? Oh, what a day! These fully lived days of the Transcendence Theatre Company are epic. Our 4th of July celebration was no exception. In fact, we had so much to do that we had to split up to cover it all!

I was in Kenwood for the Parade. Good morning 9 a.m. alarm! Especially after a wonderful night celebrating the success of our first concert. Reeling from memories of the night before, we launched into making new ones. Many things to get done! We have the cast of Fantastical Family Fun night joining in on the fun now! The convertible is ready to go with our lead singer, Dan the Man, and his back up singers to sing "Best Night Ever". The cast was around the car with banners, streamers, flyers, and beaming in the radiant sun for this glorious day in America! It's time to take to the streets and share in the energy of Kenwood! Smiling faces and flags waving as we blast our season's theme song "Best Night Ever". My heart immediately returned to being a kid with painted faces, decorated bikes, and bon pops that have managed to melt in the heat and all over your face and clothes with a brilliant red and blue stain. It was all electric! (Not like the Disney Electric parade...I WISH!)

After that we decided to grab some brunch at Palooza: A Gastropub and wine bar in Kenwood. I'll take the Kunde Savvy B, please! I mean, when in, wine country! After some grilled artichokes, roasted brussels sprouts, and kale salads (so fresh and delicious!!), we decided to relax at the pool before heading to the next event!

"It's 4 o'clock somewhere!" Cocktail hour! Time for The Legacy Party hosted by the ever gracious Bob and Susan ----- !

Their home was absolutely beautiful. We gathered in the back yard and it was fantastic talking to the people that had seen our show and said how impacted they were by the experience. Singing around the piano at the end of the night sharing in talent, spirit, joy, celebrations. We were overwhelmed by the day and the community and sharing in such joy. It's amazing how intimate the setting felt surrounded by everyone. We sang from different parts of the room and sometimes people would join in with the dances. Everyone just radiated sheer happiness. These days here in Sonoma are EPIC. The amount that we do, the laughter we share, the team work that goes on... it makes you feel as if each day has been a week. Then, we go home, fall asleep, and begin again!

Fully lived days, my friends. Happy 4th indeed. I hope you had a great one too! Cheers!

Nick Dalton had a lot to say about last week:

Last Wednesday, Shannon and I got the awesome honor of leading a service project with the 4th and 5th graders at the SONOMA BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB and the cast and crew of TRANSCENDENCE's "Fantastical Family Night" show. We laughed, cried, and created SUPERHERO versions of ourselves. And, we explored how we can live as these "Super Me's" at all times. With these SUPERHEROES, we explored things that make us happy and how we can maintain control of our Happiness at all times by never letting our fear outweigh our love. (There is a great study from the documentary HAPPY that talks about how we each control 90% of our own happiness. That's right...90%!! Half is DNA and half is your thoughts and actions. But, your actions and thoughts can counteract your DNA. Crazy, right? Your happiness doesn't rely on anything outside of yourself. It's ALL You.) We then also explored what makes us not Happy. Shannon and I then taught them "Don't Worry, Be Happy" with the ukelele and kazoo before having groups write their own verses combining things that effect happiness (aka bullying) and ways to counteract that massive bummer. But, it all wrapped up at the end with exploring how we are never alone in this life. We have a league of SUPERHEROES that live alongside us that are always ready to help. All we have to do is not be afraid to ask for help. And, we can do it together! But, when the nagging, little voice in the back of your brain comes in saying, YOU CAN'T DO SOMETHING, you can make sure that your LOVE overpowers your FEAR to accomplish your dream.

One thing we do at TRANSCENDENCE to accomplish this is recite a quote by Teddy Roosevelt before every show with the full cast, crew, and volunteers. So, we ended our workshop with everyone walking through the space as their SUPERHERO Self, while "Chariots of Fire" played in the background, chanting a chunk of the original...

"It is not the critic who counts;
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming..."

Shannon O'Bryan had an inspiring fourth of July:

One of our other favorite parts of this past week came to us on the 4th of July. For the past few weeks I have had the amazing opportunity to work with the incredible women at IMPACT 100 ( whose mission is:
"to increase participation among women in local philanthropy, raise awareness of the unmet needs of nonprofits in the Sonoma Valley, inspire members to become more involved with local charities, and make a substantial and lasting impact on the long-term sustainability of our nonprofit community."

Founded in 2009, our incredible league of Superheroes at Impact 100 has raised over 1 million dollars for local nonprofit organizations, and guess what? One of our Founders at Transcendence, Amy Miller, is a part of this awesome league of ladies. Together, the ladies and myself came up with a fun routine for the Sonoma 4th of July Parade to be performed by about 50 women of all different ages. We had the BEST TIME EVER and I simply cannot wait to get more involved with this group of fabulous women finding a tremendous amount of fun in giving back to their already awesome community and making it even better. Service at its finest... giving without asking for a thing in return... Paying it forward as a means of bringing the community closer together = AWESOME!!!

The 4th of July was such an incredible day all around. I started the day working with my ladies and then met up with our Transcendence warriors of the rainbow at 9:30 to march in the parade alongside the magical folks of SONOMA MARKET, the ED FOUNDATION and the SONOMA STOMPERS. This was maybe one of my favorite mornings here, besides our morning with the BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB. I love connecting with people in this community. I love connecting people in general and finding out what makes them tick and light up. Parades and smiles apparently make a lot of people light up. But, one of my favorite parts about that morning was sticking around after and talking with Erin and Joyce from Sonoma Market/Boys and Girls Club. We dreamed about future possibilities for a good hour afterwards and it left me on such a high. I love when people are living fully with passion and purpose and then find the time and space to allow their dreams to interact with other like-minded people's dreams... nothing makes me more excited!!! Let's all change the world together. Peace on Earth... Here We Come... But only if we communicate, collaborate, and create it together!!! Shanti ~ Shannon

Transcendence Theatre Company With the Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley

The Cast

The Cast

Rachel Louise Thompson, Stephan Stubbins, and Donna & Jeff Farrugla With Ben Folds

Maggie Cansler, Daniel Mertzlufft, and Nicole Mangi

Maggie Cansler, Daniel Mertzlufft, and Nicole Mangi

Lizard at FFN Orientation Rachel Louise Thomas

Group Short of Orientation

Erin Mcguire, Liz Kimball, Maggie Cansler, Eric Jackson, and Scott Barnhard

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