After their success with A Chorus Line, the Transcendence Theatre Company returns to form with Those Dancin’ Feet, an original musical revue running now in the winery ruins in Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen.
Transcendence has built its reputation on a series of productions featuring top Broadway and national touring company talent. Past shows have featured themes that were explored through a series of stand-alone vignettes featuring song or dance. In this production, director/choreographer Roy Lightner overlays a narrative on the music and dance.
It’s a simple one – the journey that is life as experienced by three couples as they fall in (or out) of love. The twist in the narrative presentation is that each couple is represented by four performers. The couples are distinguished by costume color with one dressed in shades of red, another in blue and the third in green. One pair of performers handles the singing, the other handles the dancing. Each pair of couples occupies the stage at the same time with the singing pair usually upstage and the dancing pair downstage. While not as confusing at it sounds, it does force the audience to split its focus which, in my case, led me to miss an important story point.
The songs and music used to support the narrative are the usual mix of Broadway standards and pop hits. Numbers from Rent, Hello, Dolly!, and West Side Story are blended with songs by Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, Bonnie Raitt, Whitney Houston and others. Most choices worked well, but I’ve yet to figure out what the show’s most emotionally evocative number – a terrific ensemble presentation of Kelly Clarkson’s “Broken and Beautiful” – had to do with anything.
Dancing styles range from the acrobatic to the balletic to the erotic and there’s a delightful tap-dancing sequence set to “De-Lovely’ from Anything Goes.
It was nice to see some diversity represented within the couples though all adhere to a heteronormative standard. Heterosexuals have never had a lock on love, and with marriage equality the law of the land since 2015, it would have been nice to see a more-encompassing representation of modern romance.
Those Dancin’ Feet, despite its oddly generic title, shows that Transcendence is willing to take chances and while they may not all succeed, they should continue to do so. There is a joy that these performers bring to the stage and share that is unlike anything else that can be experienced in this area. It’s a terrifically entertaining evening of song and dance.
Rating (out of 5): ★★★★
‘Those Dancin’ Feet’ runs Friday–Sunday through August 25 in Jack London State Historic Park. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Park opens at 5pm, show starts at 7:30pm. $49–$154. 877.424.1414. transcendencetheatre.org
Photos by Ray Mabry
This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian and the Pacific Sun.