Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The Ladies of Broadway
Transcendence Theatre Company
Review by Patrick Thomas | Season Schedule

Also see Jeanie's reviews of By the Water and Noises Off and Patrick's reviews of A Number and Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies

The Cast
Photo by Ray Mabry
The pros at Transcendence Theatre Company have a well-deserved reputation for polished productions in lovely venues. Each summer for the last several years they have staged a delightful evening of Broadway Under the Stars in the Winery Ruins at Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen (which USA Today called one of the "Outdoor Concert Venues You Shouldn't Miss"). For the current show, The Ladies of Broadway, the opening weekend was staged in the gorgeous, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Marin Center, and it will play again this coming weekend at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa.

If you love the music of Broadway but can't make it to New York as often as you'd like (and so few of us can!), Transcendence gives North Bay residents the chance to get their show tune fix in a venue close to home.

As the title suggests, The Ladies of Broadway focuses on the contributions of some the great female theatrical performers, including Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, and Ethel Merman. The evening is filled with songs that have become classics (such as "On Broadway," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" along with songs from Wicked, Chicago, Kinky Boots, A Chorus Line, and others, including a delightful medley from Mamma Mia!.

Interspersed between these numbers, the seven talented cast members regale the audience with their own experiences as women on Broadway: their dreams as children, the stress of auditions, the seemingly endless stream of "nos" before that one amazing "yes" that put them on a Broadway stage for the first time. Though their performances of these very personal stories are generally a bit stiff and stagey, theatre fans will still enjoy the look inside the world of musical theatre. There is an especially wonderful medley in which three of the performers who have worked as "swings" (who basically understudy for every role in a show) recreate the experience of getting called at the last minute to go on stage—and then perform only their segments of the shows.

There is a lovely, bittersweet moment when the cast is singing "Sister Act" (from the musical of the same name) and the lyric comes to "But what are you left with when the lights go out?" that reminds us that these singers and dancers—while still joyfully performing—know that the spotlight will fade and careers must come to an end.

Parents of kids with Broadway dreams should bring their budding performers to this show, as it is a lovely combination of the thrill of being onstage, with just enough emphasis on the dedication, hard work, and luck required to get to the big time.

The Ladies of Broadway plays Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, with shows at 2:00pm and 7:30pm at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa CA. Tickets are $34-$89. VIP tickets are $129-$139 and include a pre-show reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres and pre-show entertainment. Tickets and additional information can be found at

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