Rebirth in the Valley of the Moon
The Sonoma Mountain ranch that became, in 1959, Jack London State Historic Park, has been witness to a curious series of cycles, alternating between good times and bad, between the boundless optimism and creative force that drove Jack London and the fire that destroyed his beloved Wolf House.
People have traveled from around the world to stand where Jack stood, to immerse themselves in the mystique of his restless energy, to seek whatever inspiration flows from the ruins, the rocks and the redwoods of his Beauty Ranch.
The State of California, in its budget-beleaguered, politically-fractured and creatively-challenged myopia, concluded that this shrine to one of the world’s most popular writers, picturesquely perched on the side of a famous valley with an artfully seductive name, was an overly-expensive frill. They decided to shut it down.
That may have been the best thing to happen to it in years. Now the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association has taken over management of the park, with a menu of plans and improvements that, we believe, will inject fresh life and new revenues into a venue the State of California, with its bureaucratic bifocals, somehow couldn’t really see.
Those plans embrace the simultaneous arrival of the Transcendence Theatre Company, a troupe of Broadway professionals who have made Sonoma home base and will present a full summer’s season of musical extravaganzas in the stunning embrace of the winery ruins at the foot of the cottage where Jack died.
If the preview performances Transcendence produced last summer are any guide, Sonoma can look forward to a musical experience like few offered anywhere. You can’t know how special these performers are, how spectacular are the musical shows they produce, until you see them. And then, most likely, you’ll leave in bedazzled disbelief that something so transcendently exciting, professional and fun is taking place in this too-easily overlooked corner of our Valley.
Part of the money raised from each ticket sold will go to support the ongoing efforts to keep the park permanently open. It’s hard to imagine a better sign for the rebirth of the park, or a more exiting way to breath new life into a place too many people in high and faraway places had inexplicably forgotten.
There will be four different shows – and a total of 14 performances – beginning this Saturday. You may very well want to see them all. Get tickets and more at transcendencetheatre.org.
While we’re on the subject of keeping things open, we’re told that Save Our Sports, the organization trying to raise $55,000 to restore the middle school sports program in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, has now taken in enough money (including the Index-Tribune’s $5,000 matching grant pledge) to win a commitment from the district that the middle school sports will continue in the fall. That’s great news, but before we celebrate we urge anyone on the fence about this vital cause, to kick in a little more. We haven’t yet reached the goal and we need to get there before the summer is over and school starts again.
Send checks to SOS, P.O. Box 752, Sonoma 95476, or contribute online at adeleharrison.org and follow the links.