Review: SAVOR AFTER HOURS at JaM Cellars Ballroom is a Sensory Sensation

The Experience Lasts Until September 3

By: Jun. 11, 2023
Review: SAVOR AFTER HOURS at JaM Cellars Ballroom is a Sensory Sensation
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For thousands of years, wine has inspired creativity and evoked emotions. There have been gods dedicated to it and cults born from it. Few have poeticized it better than Lord Byron when he said, “Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, and makes weariness forget his toil.” Now, in a new show created by director Mark Swanhart, wine and dance are joined in a marriage of sensory and sensual perfection. SAVOR After Hours conveys Swanhart’s vision of encompassing all five senses while experiencing the pleasure of a glass of wine. He shares with us that, “when I drink a glass of wine, so much more is going on…a feeling, a memory, an emotion. So, the idea was to take the audience on that ride.”

That ride takes the scenic route, with Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy (of Dancing with the Stars fame) at the wheel. They lead us on a journey of art paired with wine, the latter complementing the selections of the night (my night’s choices were from PEJU). Host Allie Meixner helps navigate as we move from glass to glass, beginning with effervescent whites and accompanied by sparkling performances to such numbers as the appropriately titled “White Wine” by The Vernons. We then move to the reds, a Legacy Merlot invoking a gothic, romantic aura. Smooth and dark, it pairs perfectly with such numbers as “Misirlou/Quien Sera,” with Maks and Malece Miller delivering Pulp Fiction passion and masterful storytelling. As we continue our adventure, Meixner tempts us with “a glass so full of promise,” that we have no choice but to taste, awestruck, as we move into a complex Cabernet Sauvignon and a decadent blend, each a prelude to an even more promising performance that would make Dionysus proud. We proceed through a fantastic Chicago-esque rendition of “Big Spender” to a poignant love letter to wine and a lost lover, “Time in a Bottle,” that is beautifully staged by Maks and Kayli Johnston and emotive proof that wine and art are one and the same. 

Breaking up the physical storytelling is magician Brian Cassady, whose illusions involving alcohol (of course) are polished and entertaining. Memorable and creative choreography by KC Monnie accompanies gorgeously glittering costumes designed by Daniela Gschwendtner and perfectly ambient lighting by co-designers Matt Firestone and Ryan Healey. Together, the entire team brings Swanhart’s vision to life, reminding us to truly “savor the moments of our lives.” During this show, we do. From its refreshing start to its classy finish, SAVOR After Hours leaves us with the thought, “You Should Be Dancing.” We agree.

SAVOR After Hours is showing at the JaM Cellars Ballroom in Napa through September 3. More information and tickets may be found online at

Photo credit: MikkoMia Productions/Cheryl Mann, @cherylmannphoto, @mikkomiaproductions


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