BWW Blog: Eric Jackson of Transcendence Theatre's 'Broadway Under the Stars - 'I Want to Believe That I Can Achieve What I Dream'

Transcendence Blog: Eric Jackson - Transcendence's Fantastical Family Night

"I want to believe that I can achieve what I dream..."

Two mainstage shows gone. Even with weeks of fully well lived days, if I blink my eye then the summer will be completely over. This really occurred to me this past weekend when the curtain came down on our Fantastical Family Night Concert. That event not only marked the end of our second (out of four) scheduled Broadway Under the Stars concert series, but it also was the end of a very special week working with over 50 students at our Transcendence Kid's Camp. Major kudos go out to all of the performers hired on the Fantastical Family Night contract. These performers do the most work in the shortest amount of time in the season. But honestly, I think it's also the most rewarding show too.

Let me break it down for you. All of the professional artists hired to perform in Fantastical Family Night are truly hired to do two major tasks. The first task occurs in the first week when, as in any rehearsal process, artists learn all the music, choreography, and staging for the Fantastical Family Night Show. But the second week, which normally is spent just having tech and dress rehearsals onstage at the park, is actually spent being camp teachers at our Kid's Camp in the daytime and then teching the show at night! You can imagine all the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that rushes over you once everything is done.

The magic of all this is that somehow it all comes together. This year, even with a few injuries within our cast, an illness, and a last minute put-in for the ever talented and very game Jessica Lee Coffman, our concert came together. And after only 4 days of Transcendence Kid's Camp, our students performed their numbers within the show, sang their original songs and even performed solos during the pre-show picnic. Whew!

My friend, Scott Barnhardt, and I had the pleasure of returning as Co-Directors of the Fantastical Family Night concert after having a great time putting together the same show in the 2014 season. This time we set out to create a completely different experience from the year before. But we also aimed to keep the elements of whimsy, magic, and self discovery within the line-up since we felt that they were necessary ingredients. As with the Kid's Camp, we thought it would also be important to continue the conversation of validating everyone's dreams. There is something to the idea that we all have the ability to stand in our own greatness and shine bright like a star. And if we all work together, each and every one of us shining just as bright, we have the ability to light up the sky. So we came up with a way to put this idea into action at the end of the show. We had all of the Kid's Campers decorate and write their dreams onto white paper bags. We then put LED lights into each of them so that they turned into luminaries. For the finale of our concert, we artists performed "Just One Person" from the SNOOPY! THE MUSICAL holding our own luminaries. The song started sweetly with Liz Kimball and then was joined by Stephan Stubbins who sang the lyrics:

"If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you...
Hard enough, and long enough,
It stands to reason, that someone else will think

"If he can do it, I can do it.
Making it: two whole people, who believe in you..."

As the entire cast trickled onstage to join the rest of the number, all of the students form Kid's Camp with their own luminaries decorated with their dreams came down the center aisle to join us onstage. The number culminated in both performing artists/teachers and students singing and sharing the stage together as the lights slowly faded to black. The lasting image was that of all of our dreams lit up to help lead the way. If we were all stars, then we had created our very own constellation.

Scott and I also wanted to leave a lasting impression. And so we had set it up so that by the time the show ended and the audience would be leaving the theatre space in the pitch blackness of Jack London Park they would be greeted by even more luminaries. Actually there were about 200 glowing luminaries on the ground following and lighting up the trail out of the park and back into the world. Light up your dreams and let them lead you!

For as much as we did in such a short amount of time I was impressed how everyone truly was living in the moment. Which is kind of fitting since that is the basis of our 2015 theme "Best Night Ever"... in order to have the best night ever you should live in and cherish every moment to the fullest because all we have is now. I got to see both the teachers and students doing just that. When the campers sang their solos and original songs at the pre-show picnic they were electric because they were authentically in the moment- no apologies.

We start rehearsals for our third show this week. But a part of me is sad that this new cast missed out on experiencing the joy that is Fantastical Family Night and Kid's Camp. I was reminded of many lessons from the students this year. I was reminded to be fearless. I was reminded that I really have no excuse not to say "yes." I was reminded of my love for making and sharing music. And I also learned that I can't wait to be taught by them again next year.

"I want to believe that I can achieve what I dream
Fly to the moon, sing your own tune, do the extreme!"

-Transcendence Kid's Camp 2015 original song, "Do the Extreme"

Until next time,
Eric Jackson

p.s.. - If you were handed a luminary right now...what would YOU put down as your personal dream?!

Kids Camper Performance

Luminaries in Action

Kurt Domoney, Shannon O'Bryan and Dylan Smith

The Cast

The Bows

Nicole Mangi and Hannah Agnostou

First Day of Camp


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