Theatrical experience abound across the Valley
What could be better after hot summer days than to enjoy cool evenings watching the stars come forth, on the stage and in the sky. Foremost in my mind and heart is Kate Kennedy’s awesome production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Buena Vista Winery, where Kate is back at last in her original Sonoma venue. Buena Vista, tucked into a wooded canyon at the end of Old Winery Road, is the perfect setting for this dreamy tale of passionate strife and loving restoration.
Last week I arrived late to watch a rehearsal. As I walked the shaded path toward the Buena Vista courtyard, a fawn and its mother walked ahead as a mockingbird blessed us with a song so sweetly human it brought to mind the lullaby the fairies sing to their queen in act two, a haunting tune composed for this production by Glen Ellen singer songwriter Jon Williams.
These same fairies are a joy to watch as they flit and flutter across the stage and among the audience, with ribbons and other fairy fabrics dancing in their slipstreams while dragonflies dance above, their wings glinting iridescent in the light of the setting sun.
As nature adds to this spectacular show, Kate matches nature’s art in surprise, excitement and laughter. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is all about love and the ways in which it goes asunder, overarched by the prophetic and contemporary theme of climate change, war, disease and chaos. Be cheered though, it’s uplifting, because love restores order in the end.
Talented actors fill major roles. Oh, I haven’t room to continue here with my admiration of Kathryn Del Chiaro, Spencer Rank and the four young lovers. You must see this production with your own eyes.
Many of these special folks are Glen Ellen homegrown. Nathalie Tedrick is outstanding as Helena. Be sure to catch her intermission entertainment, too. She’s a spirited woman who gifts us with her brilliance when she’s not gracing other stages ’round the world. We’ve watched Nathalie and Kate working together over the years. Kate is a gifted teacher. Two more Glen Ellen talents who have grown up with Kate’s guidance are teens Kyrie Dawson and Sophia Falls. You’ll love watching their fairy wrangling. In all, the cast numbers 22, and all are splendid in this entirely transporting summer hit.
The other theatrical production I loved best last week was Garen Patterson’s home show, “Marta’s Inferno.” Garen has honed this solo folk opera performance to perfection. Alone, Garen plays an entire classroom of teens, their beleaguered teacher, the imperious school director and a host of Mexican amigos. The show is alternately hilarious and heart-breaking, leaving the audience feeling like they experienced a continental voyage of self-discovery in one fast-paced hour.
One appreciative audience member exclaimed, “The narrative is seamless, and for me a seamless narrative is the Holy Grail.” Yep, it’s that good. But aside from the compelling story, the part that moves me most is Garen’s original music that includes soft guitar in operatic interludes, giving it the powerful emotional impact of a full opera, and all with just Garen’s voice and guitar.
Garen has been invited to debut this final version of “Marta’s Inferno” at the famous Marsh Theatre in San Francisco with the possibility of an extended run. He’s hoping for a roomful of his Sonoma fans to help that dream come true. We’ll be there, so call me if you want to know more.
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