Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Hooray for Hollywood
Transcendence Theatre Company
Review by Patrick Thomas

Also see Patrick's reviews of Follies

Joey Khoury
Photo by Rob Martel
If you, dear reader, have become bored by my near continuous praise of the output of the Transcendence Theatre Company (they have had a few glitches over their 10 or so seasons, but very few), read no further, for another rave is coming. With Hooray for Hollywood, their latest musical revue, the wonderful folks at TTC have delivered yet another winner. Melding some 60 songs from movies across the decades, this fantastic company of singers and dancers are putting on a two-hour spectacle that has the audience on its feet at show's end.

Let's start with the 11-piece band, led by Susan Draus, who alternately rock the house with numbers like "Crocodile Rock" and "Footloose," or serenade it with ballads: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Out Here on My Own," and "Time of My Life." Guitarist Isaac Carter cuts the night with some electric runs, and Marvin McFadden's trumpet fills the Valley of the Moon with a high, bright and clear timbre.

The singers, each and every one, are eminently up to the task of keeping up with Draus's amazing musicians. Often in a show there will be one or two voices that are a little thin, or have trouble getting to (or supporting) very high or low notes. Not this cast–every voice is right on pitch, powerful or pleading (as the song required), filled with emotion and sincerity. Still, among the collection of songs, one number stood out for me: a stunning rendition of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" that features blisteringly close harmonies that took my breath away. Crosby, Stills & Nash never did it any better.

Sadly, on the evening I attended, something I ate prior to the show didn't agree with me, and I was compelled to leave my seat to lie down in the lounge area for a while. While I heard every note from the band and every lyric and chorus from the cast of singers, I missed some of what my theatergoing companions told me was some thrilling dancing. In fact, even without seeing every number, my ear told me the tap dancing was perfectly in sync and powerfully presented.

My minor health issue did have one bonus: I got to experience a different aspect of Transcendence's commitment to making their productions live up to their theme of "Best Night Ever." I've remarked in the past at how smoothly their logistics run: parking is well organized and shuttles to the lower lot plentiful. Ticketing and will call are well-oiled machines, and every staff member or volunteer wears a sincere smile and is welcoming and hospitable. Each TTC staffer performs their task with professionalism and joy. When I was feeling unwell, I was tenderly transported to a comfortable place to lie down, where I could hear everything, and was checked on several times until felt like myself again.

If you've never seen a Transcendence show, you're missing some of the best musical entertainment the Bay Area has to offer. Combine the evening performance with a day of winery visits, shopping in Sonoma's boutiques, or lunching at any of the area's terrific restaurants and you can make a glorious outing in the North Bay. Only two more weekends left, so get your tickets now.

Hooray for Hollywood runs through August 14, 2022, in the Winery Ruins at Jack London State Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen CA. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Tickets range from $25-$165. "Gold Level" tickets includes VIP parking, seat cushions, two glasses of wine and admission to the pre-show lounge. Tickets and additional information can be found at