There’s no doubt that Transcendence Theater Company had a spectacular opening to their summer 2019 season with their reprise of the classic “A Chorus Line” in June.
It’s a hard act to follow, yet it’s clear that in this break-through season — “A Chorus Line” was their first full-length musical — this talented troupe of singers and dancers is reaching high as they create their 2019 shows.
Their newest offering, “Those Dancin’ Feet,” opened this weekend at their outdoor venue at Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. And while it had all the enthusiasm the cast consistently exudes, it did not quite reach the heights of other productions.
Derived from the theory that the greatest dance is the one “of life,” “Those Dancin’ Feet’ examines the subject of love through song and dance, in a format where one couple is singing, another is dancing, and these are often joined by the ensemble.
It’s an earnest effort to create a narrative thread for a sequence of lively numbers — although a story told in this fashion — pop songs — runs the risk of remaining in the realm of generalities. The actual characters remain in the shadows. The initial euphoria of “It Only Takes a Moment” (“Good luck with that,” the woman next to me murmured at the premise that this moment would last “your whole life long.”) gives way to “All By Myself.” (This is probably my own failing but I can’t hear that woeful, warbling song now without recalling Renée Zellweger’s hilarious self-parody in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”) In the end, some people get happy endings and some don’t and, well, that is the way it goes.
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If “Those Dancin’ Feet” does not quite have the polish of other Transcendence Shows, it still gets points for lively dancing and outstanding vocals — and a noble experiment.
As always, the Transcendence events are great summer fun with local wines and pre-show music, food trucks, and, happy fans picnicking in the incomparable setting of Jack London’s former home. Each show opens with London’s famous ashes and dust quote and part of the proceeds support the park. They are a theatrical treasure for Sonoma (and the many people from Napa, too, who venture over the mountains.)
And as the sun sets over the Sonoma mountains and the moon rises over the oak trees, it’s a pretty fine place to be.
For information and tickets, visit https://transcendencetheatre.org.