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Review: Transcendence Theatre's 'Let's Dance' Celebrates Diversity Through Dance

BWW Review: Transcendence Theatre's ‘Let's Dance’ Celebrates Diversity

Review: Transcendence Theatre's 'Let's Dance' Celebrates Diversity Through Dance
Simon Pearl & Ensemble
Photo Credit: Rob Martel

California Wine Country's award-winning Transcendence Theatre Company returned once again to the incomparable Jack London State Historic Park to celebrate its 11th season. And what better way to celebrate than through dance. Directed by acclaimed international director and choreographer Luis Salgado, "Let's Dance" features a cast and creative team of international talent from all across the country and beyond, including Puerto Rico, Colombia and Spain. Salgado's vision was to "bring the flavor of Latin culture to Broadway classics and present a show that is bold, high-energy, and embraced by all." And that is exactly what he did.

Despite the cooler evening temps on opening night, "Let's Dance" certainly brought the heat with non-stop energy of Latin, jazz and modern movement and powerhouse vocals. The opening number, "A Musical" from SOMETHING ROTTEN! set the tone with all the show-stopping entertainment as a Tony Awards ceremony opening number. The music, much like the cast, is a diverse mix of Broadway classics, Latin culture, and pop songs we all know and have loved throughout the ages. From Sondheim to Motown to Richard Marx, we were presented a delicious buffet of musical entertainment to keep us satisfied throughout the night.

Review: Transcendence Theatre's 'Let's Dance' Celebrates Diversity Through Dance
Mariana Herrera Juri
Photo Credit: Rob Martel

While this production is mostly ensemble-focused, I would be remiss not to give credit to some stand-out performers. Emily Yates is one of those powerhouse singers who gives you goosebumps and leaves you speechless in the end. I especially loved her in Calum Scott's "Dancing on My Own" and as a featured soloist in Sondheim's "Being Alive" - chilling! Kyle Kemph gave a powerful performance singing "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx, and Colombian artist Mariana Herrera Juri graced us with her impeccable dancing as a featured international dancer throughout the program. At the top of Act 2, Luis Antonio Vilchez Vargas performed a crowd-pleasing drum solo and tap number that really entertained and engaged the audience. The Sondheim and Motown Celebrations were also outstanding ensemble acts and a remarkable tribute to songs of that genre.

Luis Salgado's genius choreography was nonstop but not dizzying. We were treated to a variety of dance styles that spanned multiple cultures and generations, all brought together in one unified performance under Sonoma's Field of Dreams. Movements were tight and controlled yet free-flowing as the night air. This was especially emphasized by Julia Squier's costume design and Christopher Annas-Lee's lighting which were equally brilliant.

Below is a YouTube video of Musical Director and Co-Conceiver Matt Smart talking about the variety of music you can expect to hear at "Let's Dance." Check it out below!

Jack London's spirit was prevalent on stage as performers wove in bits of his credos throughout the show:

"I would rather be ashes than dust."

"I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot."

"I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent flow, than a sleepy and permanent planet."

"The function of man is to live, not to exist."

"I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them."

"I shall use my time."

These words are not just spoken; they are lived by the Transcendence Theatre year after glorious year. As Artistic Director Amy Miller said in an interview with me a few years ago, "Transcendence is a group of people fueled by immense passion to serve our community... We believe that life is a work of art and our artists strive to make life a masterpiece and leave an indelible mark on people's lives."

That passion not only is evident on stage, but also thrives in the supporters and sponsors who continue to generously support this magnificent production. Miller honored those supporters and sponsors at the top of the Second Act and gave heartfelt appreciation for their continued contributions. To date, Transcendence Theatre has raised over $600,000 for Jack London State Historic Park alone. And they continue to give back to the artistic community with every donation received.

Picnicking at the park begins at 5pm, where you can enjoy food from local food trucks, wine from local wineries, and live music on the lawn. You can also pack your own picnic, but outside alcohol is not permitted at the event. The atmosphere is casual yet elegant where theatergoers can relax and enjoy all the festivities while taking in the fresh air and the stunning, sprawling views of the ruins.

As we strive for acceptance of our diverse culture in a society ridden with intolerance and polarization, Transcendence Theatre's timely production of "Let's Dance" reminds us to not only accept our differences, but to celebrate them. This is an annual show not to be missed.

Transcendence Theatre Company's "Let's Dance" continues through July 3rd. They will also present "Hooray for Hollywood" July 29 - August 14, "The Gala" September 9-18, and "Transcendence's Holiday Spectacular" December 2-11. Pre-show picnics begin at 5 p.m. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Jack London State Historic Park is located at 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Ticket prices range from $25-$165 for individual shows with savings of 15% when you buy a subscription for the entire season. For tickets and more information, call 877-424-1414 or visit their newly designed website at BestNightEver.org.

To catch a sneak peek at "Let's Dance," watch the teaser below!

Transcendence Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) non profit theatre company. Half of their income comes from ticket sales, the other half comes from donations, sponsorships, and grants. Any size contribution helps make a difference in the future of this company. Make a Donation Today!



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