BWW Review: Transcendence Theatre Presents 'Sensational' Inaugural Production of A CHORUS LINE
After eight seasons of presenting phonenomal musical revues in its award-winning "Broadway Under the Stars" performances, the Transcendence Theatre seamlessly transcends into its inaugural full Broadway production of the mega-hit musical, A CHORUS LINE. This seems a no-brainer as most of the performers are Broadway veterans or have professional stage credits to their name.
From the words of the original Director/Choreographer Michael Bennett, "The show is really about the experience of growing up... it's like a group biography and the experience of adolescence." How appropriate for this troupe of performers who are basically like family and are growing up together with each new season.
The story centers around Broadway hopefuls who go through the audition process to land a coveted role on the chorus line in January of 1973. After sets of vicious cuts, Director Zach (Matthew Rossoff) lines up the remaining candidates and probes deeper into their lives by asking private and sometimes humiliating questions. Vulnerable and desperate for work, the remaining 17 dancers reveal the intimate and painful details of their past, from childhood through adulthood through their early careers up to the present.
Through song and dance, we are moved by their life journey and all their perils of growing up. Kristine (Mary Page Nance) admits that she's tone-deaf as her husband Al (Garen McRoberts) finishes her phrases in tune with "Sing;" Sheila, Bebe and Maggie (Sara Andreas, Leslie Rochette and Erika Conaway, respectively) open up about how ballet was their escape from a troubled childhood ("At the Ballet"); and a feisty Val (Alicia Albright) shares how plastic surgery can land jobs over pure talent alone ("Dance 10: Looks: 3"), just to name a few. Cassie (played expertly by Kristin Piro), the most experienced dancer who shares a complex personal history with Zach, is especially notable as she makes a passionate plea to dance ("The Music and the Mirror"). Finally, once the line is announced, they all come together and dance the show-stopping number, "One."
The entire Transcendence Theatre cast perfectly portrays each personality with all the powerful intensity, vulnerability, and raw passion that you would witness inside an actual audition room. The audience is emotionally transcended through time with each story, movement, and song as the characters share what they did for love.
Set designer Michael Kramer expertly makes use of the outdoor stage by creating movable mirrors, barres, and other set pieces to seamlessly move the production along. Lighting Designer Paul Hudson creates a visually stunning masterpiece as the setting sun moves through time right in sync with the narrative.
Jim Cooney's choreography is well-balanced and graceful and Kristina Marie Martin's costume design is spot-on. The impressive 13-piece orchestra led by Daniel Weidlein fills the ruins with voluptuous sounds that carry through the night sky.
Forever in gratitude, Artistic Director Amy Miller shared on opening night what she did for love by humbly thanking all the presentors, sponsors, partners, cast, and beloved ticket holders who return year after year to keep this journey alive. In a full-page letter inside the program, she states, "Thank you for believing in us for the past decade, and for being a part of the Transcendence family. The 'Impossible Dream' of the Transcendence has come true and we are so excited to be sharing that with you and making such a big difference in this world together." Miller was truly missed this year as an actual performer. Her presence alone is always an incredible shining moment on stage.
A ticket to the show not only includes watching this stellar Broadway production, but also incorporates the experience of picnicking two and a half hours pre-show in the acclaimed Jack London State Park, enjoying premium wines from Sonoma wineries, a variety of food from local gourmet food trucks, and listening to diverse musical entertainment from local musicians. The atmosphere for picnicking is elegant casual where theatergoers can relax and enjoy all the festivities while taking in the fresh air alongside the stunning, sprawling views of the winery ruins.
Benzinger Family Winery is the featured Signature Wine Sponsor and Chateau St. Jean their Premier Wine Sponsor. Other Featured Nightly Wine Sponsors include Glen Lyon, Two Amigos, and Talisman Wines, along with their Pouring Partners Rancho Maria Wines, Kaz Winery, Landmark Vineyards, Highway 12 Winery, and Kenwood Vineyards.
Don't miss this outstanding 'Singular Sensation' in their magical field of dreams for one more weekend only! Transcendence Theatre Company's A CHORUS LINE continues through June 30.
Tickets are $45 to $150 with general tickets $45 to $79; premium tickets $85 to $99; and VIP tickets $139 to $150. Group tickets also available. Five dollars from every ticket sold is contributed for the support and maintenance of Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, Calif. Reservations are recommended. Call 877-424-1414 or visit BestNightEver.org
Photo Credit: Ray Mabry