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Bill Lynch: Musical theater is back

“Give me the making of people’s songs, and I care not who makes its laws.”

–Andrew Fletcher, Scottish writer, 1653-1716.

The music that was once alive in our hills, especially those near Jack London State Historic Park, is back, bringing with it all the joy that touched our souls and filled our hearts before being cruelly silenced by a terrible plague.

Transcendence Theatre Company, Sonoma Valley’s musical treasure, is on a comeback schedule that began last week at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma and will wind its way here this weekend to B.R. Cohn Winery. It is a lively, sparkling preview of what will be their full re-opening on the stage at Jack London State Park starting Aug. 6.

Amy Miller and Brad Surosky and company call the show “My Hero,” an 80-minute celebration honoring frontline healthcare workers and 10 years of Transcendence performances in the Valley of the Moon. For me and Dottie, it was like an unusually warm, but still slightly separated, reunion with old friends. It wasn’t quite the same as a hug or handshake, but far better than the cold, dark, dreary months with virtually no contact all. We couldn’t wait for them to come to Sonoma, so we drove to Petaluma to be at opening night.

“My Hero” is a drive-in show, which means that members of the audience are in their cars and not theater seats. But we showed up, and instead of clapping, we honked our horns and flashed our headlights. It was the least we could do to show how much we enjoyed and appreciated the return of the artists who have made such a wonderful contribution to life in our community.

“My Hero” includes familiar Transcendence veterans Meggie Cansler Ness and Colin Campbell McAdoo, director Matthew Rossoff and conductor Matt Smart, plus talented Broadway performers Amanda Lopez, Arielle Crosby, Bernard Dotson, Catherine Wreford and Kevin Schuering.

It could not have been easy for them to get back up after being knocked down so hard by the separation and isolation imposed by COVID restrictions. Artists like those in the cast of “My Hero” depend on performing in musical theater for their livelihood. They lost many months of work, opportunities to advance their careers and to do the thing they most love about their jobs – perform before an appreciative live audience.

Yet, there they were, singing and dancing their hearts out to a field full of cars.

Yes, separation was still required, but even through our windshields we could see the joy in their bright smiles and hear it in their beautiful voices. They are back and if you want to share some of that joy with them, then go to the Transcendence website and get your tickets to one of the shows at B.R. Cohn Winery this weekend. There’s also one more weekend of “My Hero” in Napa.

The company also has two upcoming shows back at Jack London State Historic Park. The first runs from Aug. 6-29 and the Gala show, Sept. 10-19.

Information at transcendencetheatre.org.

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