One of the best quotes about theater goes like this: “If you want to communicate something to the proletariat, cover it in sequins and make it sing.” Transcendence Theater Company is the master of taking a vague concept and making it sing.
Hooray For Hollywood, now running at Jack London State Park through Aug. 14, is a fun, high-energy production that is less of a “show” and more a musical mash-up love letter from an all-female creative team to the movies that shaped them.
Of special note are performances of “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain, featuring three of the most enjoyable performers in the company: Amanda Lopez, Daniel Walton and Vasthy Mompoint. “The Pink Panther” was sublimely danced by Courtney Kristen Liu. An energetic and technically difficult “Step In Time” from Mary Poppins featured the skilled Cory Lingner, and a rousing rendition of “Proud Mary” is sung and danced by the luminescent Mompoint. She’s a true “triple threat” performer who excels at acting, singing and dancing and also happens to play a mean guitar.
Sadly, overall the production is uneven. Some very good songs are treated very badly, notably an unfocused “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and an overly ornamented “The Show Must Go On” from Bohemian Rhapsody. Along with the songs that were less than stellar, technical mishaps common to an outdoor show stole a lot of momentum from the better-built pieces.
The most effective moments actually came about by accident. Bebe Browning is a strong singer who broke her ankle during dress rehearsal. The sudden reworking needed to accommodate her injury speaks to the core of what musicals and theater are about: bringing people together in community. The plucky good humor, flexibility and obvious care shown by everyone involved in accommodating Browning’s injury remind us that theater is a community first and a “show” later.
If you like your content covered in sequins, there is much to like here. If you like your theater to quietly remind you about the innate goodness in humanity (surprising from a company that is usually about spectacle), you will find that here as well.
‘Hooray for Hollywood’ runs Friday-Sunday through Aug. 14 in Jack London State Historic Park. 2400 London Ranch Rd., Glen Ellen. Park opens at 5pm, show starts at 7:30pm. $25–$165. 877.424.1414. transcendencetheatre.org