Welcome to a Rich Life Travels post!
This time, I’m telling you about a fantastic annual event taking place throughout the summer here in the Sonoma Valley!
Broadway Under The Stars is an award-winning series of performances featuring artists from Broadway and Hollywood, showcasing a fantastic mix of Broadway standards with popular music and lots of dance!
This outdoor summer series is produced by Transcendence Theatre Company, an award-winning nonprofit arts organization. Its members are artists who have professional experience on Broadway, movies and television.
This is fourth summer of production for Broadway Under The Stars which takes place in venues around Sonoma County and calls Jack London State Park’s 150-year-old winery ruins in Glen Ellen its home base.
Named USA Today’s 10 Best as the #2 “Outdoor Concert Venue You Shouldn’t Miss,” Broadway Under The Stars is a magical music and dance series.
The night of the event just happened to be her boyfriend, Bill’s, birthday. Since there are two Bills in this post, for the sake of lessening confusion, my Bill will be referred to as “Kenwood Bill” and Michelle’s Bill will be referred to as “Sonoma Bill. ”
We had VIP tickets which meant reserved parking (score!). Once parked, we checked in and made our way up the hill to the event. In the meadow just outside the ruins, there were lots of people eating, drinking and enjoying themselves before the show began. With pre-show music, ideal temperatures, and a happy, festive feeling in the air, we knew we were in for a great night. A “Best Night Ever” – which is the theme for this year’s Broadway Under The Stars!
Our VIP tickets gained us entrance into a special area where they had set up tables and lounging areas. And, to my delight, were selling one of my favorite bubbly brands, Breathless Wines sparkling wine. You can bring your own picnic or purchase food at the event.
In the meadow there are food trucks – like Kenwood Bill’s favorite, Tri-Tip Trolley – and several other food and wine vendors. My personal favorite, Cookie…Take a Bite, was there. Their cookies are so good and I am not even a big cookie lover. These cookies are so remarkably tasty, I actually let out a little happy cry when I saw they had a booth at the event. Sonoma Bill was sweet enough to buy me – I mean us – a big box to munch on during the show. The peanut butter cookie is truly the best I’ve had. Better than grandma used to make and the perfect thing to pair with bubbly!
While enjoying our tasty treats, we were approached by one of the cast members, Courtney Carter, who was friendly and gracious (and tall like me!).
I was excited to see many of the cast members were also part of the pre-show reception. From taking tickets to offering information to guests, cast members were not only accessible and eager to interact with us, but helped to make the entire event enjoyable. I felt a strong sense of community at this event, just one of many things I love about Broadway Under the Stars and Transcendence Theatre Company.
After a few more sips of wine and maybe a cookie or two (hey, they’re mini!) we started for the ruins at Jack London State Park. It was just over a month ago I was at this same location with some friends for the Handmade Events PopUp Dinner.
Kenwood Bill wanted to sit on the aisle since he was in charge of photographing the evening for the blog. He is always saddled with that task because he’s so much better with our camera than I am. I guess we make a good team that way – he takes the photos, I do the rest!
The show started with a burst of music and dance from the hit Broadway show, Jersey Boys, and from there it only got better! The entire performance was balanced in that fast-moving singing and dancing numbers were often followed by heart-felt ballads. Our new friend, Courtney Carter, stunned the audience with a Broadway solo in a delicious yellow gown.
Shortly after Courtney’s performance, we were treated to a couple of side-splittingly funny acts by Lexy Fridell.
Performances from Broadway shows like Top Hat, Porgy and Bess, Carousel, and more were spotlighted. And there were plenty of non-Broadway songs including Best Night Ever which was written by members of the Transcendence Theatre, Morgan Karr, Daniel Weidlein and Amy Miller.
I loved this 1950s themed medley called “A Night at the Prom.” The costumes were beautiful and ideal for this number. They were provided by Sonoma clothing boutique, Bella Vita, owned by my friend, Janis Snyder.
One of the most remarkable moments was during the performance called “Flight.” At the end, white doves were released into the night sky. As if the three singers all dressed in white singing an emotion-filled song wasn’t enough! It was no surprise that the audience let out a collective gasp when the birds were suddenly released. Such an awesome experience to see!
At intermission, we got up and walked around. We wanted to see the sunset in the vineyards. For awhile I was lost in the performance and forgot I was sitting in the ruins of a winery, surrounded by stunning vineyards and trees and hills.
We ventured over to over to the glassless windows to take a few photos. This is one of my all-time favorite sunset photographs. It’s like a painting.
The second half was just as entertaining as the first. We had a wonderful time with our friends. And I think Sonoma Bill had a pretty darn good birthday.
Everyone in the Broadway Under The Stars show is so incredibly talented. I can’t imagine what it must take to prepare for these performances. To think of all the years of training, practice, hard work and perseverance it’s taken to get to this point. These entertainers are doing it all – dancing, singing and acting and they’re doing it live here in Sonoma Valley!
“Oh, What A Night” has concluded for the season but there are plenty of performances left like next week’s Fantastical Family Night and Special Guest Performer, Megan Hilty, star of the NBC hit television show, Smash, will be performing be in concert at Jack London State Park on July 25th.
Visit the Transcendence Theatre Company’s to see a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets.
Broadway Under the Stars’ season runs through mid-September. If you live in or plan to be in the Bay Area this summer, don’t miss this amazing series! I am already making plans to go again!
Disclosure: I was given two VIP tickets in exchange for writing about this event. All opinions expressed here are, as always, my own.
Make it a rich day!