Musings: Time travel via Transcendence Theatre Company
It was only yesterday that I was driving south on Highway 101 to begin my freshman year at the campus by the sea, UC Santa Barbara. My radio was on full blast as Bobby Darin, the Drifters, Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, the Shirelles, Four Seasons and Everly Brothers, filled the time and distance with one sweet song after another. I sang along with every one.
Alas, that yesterday was actually September, 1960. But, thanks to Transcendence Theatre’s fantastic 2023 season-opening show “The Beat Goes On,” I discovered that I still remember the words.
Last Friday night, Dottie and I, found ourselves nestled comfortably in the middle of Kenwood’s Belos Cavalos horse pasture, swaying in our seats and singing along to the songs we loved when we were the age of the performers on Transcendence’s stage.
How and why that stage, lights, seats and all the other accoutrements of musical theater magically sprang up from a bed of dry hay spread over a field of mowed wild oats is another story. But for now, just go to BestNightEver.org and buy your tickets for “The Beat Goes On,” which runs through July 2. I guarantee that if you grew up in the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s, you’re going to love it.
My Friday musical reverie began with the first song of the first act, featuring hits from the 1960s and ‘70s, from late Doo-Wop rock to the Beatles, Beach Boys and Motown. The incredibly talented cast and band were not only true to the genre, but also loud enough that nobody noticed that we were singing along.
The second act included many top hits from the 1980s, which I recognized as the favorite songs of my children (now in their 40s and 50s). I smiled, remembering them singing along, vibrations from their stereos rattling our windows, while I shouted for them to turn down the volume.
The Transcendence cast, most of whom live and work on Broadway, weren’t even born in the ‘80s. But they performed every decade’s memorable hits as though they wrote them.
Of course, they’re professionals, veterans of recent and current top-rated musicals on Broadway. We expected them to be good, but even more delightful was seeing and hearing the obvious joy in their dancing and singing. Through them we relived those precious moments from our own youth so very long ago.
The show’s director, Sue Draus, who has been the musical genius behind many of Transcendence Theatre’s best shows of previous seasons, skillfully wove 71 songs from three decades into an exhilarating, heart lifting, two-hour, journey down memory lane. We are very fortunate that Sue has chosen our Valley of the Moon as the setting for her marvelous works of musical art.
It is also a small miracle that Transcendence, our virtually home-grown theater company has been able to bring Broadway-quality shows to us every summer for the past 12 years. For that we can thank theater founders, Amy Miller and Brad Surosky, talented performers in their own right, who through grit and determination made their dream of bringing musical theater under the stars to our Valley of the Moon a reality, managing to sustain it even through a pandemic that so severely impacted the theater community everywhere.
Every year for the past 12, they’ve also managed to recruit incredibly talented artists and skilled theater production staff to leave New York and Hollywood to work and perform right here in our backyard.
And, most fortunately, they have been supported by a host of generous local donors, supporters, volunteers and thousands of us who purchase tickets for every show.
Get your tickets now to “The Beat Goes On” now at BestNightEver.org.