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Sonoma County Gazette
A sultry tango with lighting design by Justin Partier.
A sultry tango with lighting design by Justin Partier.

Broadway Under the Stars: Shall We Dance with Transcendence Theater Company

Aug 7, 2018


Scintillating rhythm spreads across vineyards and historic ruins in Jack London State Historic Park with Transcendence Theatre’s Broadway spectacular ‘Shall We Dance’ which lives up to its name with flashy choreography by Marc Kimelman. Polished movement and musicality from the cast flows with breathless grace, transitioning effortlessly between excerpts from popular musicals such as ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Hamilton’ while tipping a hat to classics like ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ earning appreciative excitement from the audience as they recognize familiar opening bars.

“Be Our Guest” embraces a wine country theme, with twirling ribbons, scampering grapes and traditional crush equipment in a turbulent, imaginative rendition of Belle’s dinner presentation. Director Leslie McDonel draws attention to subtle interactions and has nurtured suspenseful chemistry between dancers that infuses humor and compassion, creating a memorable performance.

The men of Transcendence find the thrill of the fight.

Lori Haley Fox has superb comic timing, giving Garen McRoberts an aghast side-eye during “On the Street Where You Live” and taking center stage to assist the bewildered hiker in “A Musical!” which was a choice of that felt natural in the setting. Kristina Martin’s costume design was so authentic that for a moment I questioned if it actually was a stray hiker wandering into the theater after a day on Jack London’s back country trails.

Striking a pose as evening falls in Glen Ellen.Emotionally charged “Dancing on My Own” builds into a blazing climax with Stephanie Jae Park, who captures the wounded and ultimately self-assured woman in the song. Contrasting with the somber beauty of Jae Park’s solo is a jaunty “Bad Boys” journey with the gamblers of ‘Guys & Dolls,’ hopping knights in ‘Spamalot’ and an excerpt from ‘Dreamgirls.’

Prepare for a roller coaster ride of spectacular dancing, with varied choreography ranging from romantic waltzes to fist-pumping “Eye of the Tiger” action and flirtatious twerking. ‘Shall We Dance’ is a thrilling evening with talented entertainers and an outstanding orchestra led by Daniel Emerson Weidlein.

Shall We Dance

Presented by Transcendence Theatre Company through August 3-19, 2018
Fri/Sat/Sun at 7:30pm
(Opens for picnicking at 5:00pm)

Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(877) 424-1414

Photos by Ray Mabry

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