Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
An Enchanted Evening
As is the norm with Transcendence productions, first-time director Brad Surosky (who also happens to be the company's executive director) has assembled a talented group of singers and dancers, given them several dozen terrific songs that range from classic to contemporary, and stitched them together with a loose but discernible theming. Their goal, as always, is to create the "best night ever," and if you enjoy a range of music played by a skilled band presented with gusto, humor, and joy, then you'll have a great time at An Enchanted Evening.
Even if you're not a fan of musical revues (or outdoor theatre), it would be worth your drive up to Beltane Ranch near Glen Ellen if only to listen to the gorgeous, soaring, shimmering voice of Alloria Fraser. Although there are several good singers in the cast (and a couple of only average voices), Alloria stands far above her fellow cast members. Her voice puts me in mind of the fashions of Issey Miyake, whose designs are distinguished by his use of silky smooth fabrics that are often heavily pleated and always distinctive. Similarly, Frayser's voice is luscious, almost liquid, yet with a distinctive, feathery quality with a ripple that is not quite a vibrato. She's a talent to watch out for, and I hope if she returns to the Transcendence family next summer that she's given an even more prominent role in the company. (I've suggested to the producers that their next foray into a full musical–they've only done A Chorus Line and The Full Monty–ought to be The Pajama Game, and Frayser would make a perfect Babe Williams.)
Most musical revues are merely a thoughtful arrangement of familiar songs. But Transcendence always takes their productions up a notch, with clever staging and performers who do more than sing–they inhabit roles that match the mood or subject of the song.
Ignoring some of the occasionally bland choreography, there are many highlights in the evening. The male quartet (Colin Campbell McAdoo, Joey Khoury, Michael Schimmele, and Nathan Andrew Riley) that performs a medley of moon-themed songs is undeniably terrific, giving us tight harmonies and soaring solo parts. Nathan Andrew Riley's take on "I Put a Spell on You" (with Alyson Snyder) isn't as gravelly or leonine as "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins's version, but Riley lends the song his own kind of power. There is also a gorgeous rendition of "Quando m'en vo'" from La Bohème, sung by Emma Grimsley.
The show runs only more weekend, so you have a chance to make a lovely day/evening in the Sonoma wine country: do some tasting, have a nice meal at one of the many excellent local eateries (or do a picnic dinner on the grounds where they have umbrella-shaded tables), and finish off the night listening to good music presented by some terrific young performers.
An Enchanted Evening runs through September 17, 2023, at Beltane Ranch, 11775 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen CA. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $35-$180. "Gold Level" tickets includes VIP parking, two glasses of wine and admission to the pre-show lounge. For tickets and information, please visit www.TranscendenceTheatre.org.