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Looking ahead to the most uncertain season ever

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VIRTUAL STAGE The popular Broadway Under the Stars moves to a digital format for the 2020 summer season. - PHOTO COURTESY TRANSCENDENCE THEATRE COMPANY
  • Photo courtesy Transcendence Theatre Company
  • VIRTUAL STAGE The popular Broadway Under the Stars moves to a digital format for the 2020 summer season.

Unfortunately, the upcoming summer season is going to be anything but social, as many large California and the North Bay events have already announced postponements or cancellations in the face of the pandemic.

Some major events, such as BottleRock Napa Valley, have been delayed until fall. Other long-running summer specials, including Marin’s century-old Mountain Play, have outright canceled their planned productions as they look ahead to next season. Other performance organizations are going the online route with virtual versions of their summer spectacles.

One such group is Sonoma County–based Transcendence Theatre Company,  best known for their summer-long Broadway Under the Stars series of live, outdoor theater productions at Jack London State Park.

Forced to cancel its live 2020 season of shows, Transcendence Theatre Company will instead present “The Best Night Ever Goes Online,” a virtual compilation of the last eight seasons of Broadway Under the Stars concerts with never-before-seen footage featuring hundreds of Broadway artists.

The virtual season will stream online Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, July 10 through Sept. 13, with evening and matinee presentations. The virtual season includes four different concert offerings. “Don’t Stop Believin’” opens the series with uplifting music July 10-19, the beloved “Fantastical Family Night” presents kid-friendly numbers July 24-26, “I Hope You Dance” brings the most moving shows to the stage Aug. 14–23 and a retrospective of the annual “Gala Celebration” caps the season Sept. 11–13. Tickets can be found at bestnightever.org.

Also in Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival is moving from in-person to online concerts for the 2020 season. The festival presents a wide range of classical, romantic and other chamber music concerts to local audiences, and this year was meant to mark the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. The online season is still committed to celebrating Beethoven and 2020 with live-streamed and socially distant ensembles scheduled to perform later this summer. Details are coming soon to valleyofthemoonmusicfestival.org.

Chamber music fans can also look forward to Napa Valley’s Music in the Vineyards virtual festival in August. The annual concert series is postponed as planned, though the virtual fest hopes to bring its high-quality music to the public in a new online format. Details are forthcoming at musicinthevineyards.org.

Several other Napa Valley events remain hopeful about operating this summer, especially given that the Napa County Public Health Officer highlighted the county’s low rates of Covid-19 cases and high levels of preparedness in a May 14 report. One event, the popular Napa Porchfest, is scheduled to take place on several porches and lawns throughout downtown Napa on July 26. The neighborhood event is also one of the best for possible social distancing, as crowds wander from house to house to see a wide range of local bands and musicians. With proper face coverings and separation, the show could potentially go on. Details can be found at napaporchfest.org.

Art is a large part of Marin County’s summer, though many events, such as the Novato Festival of Art, Wine & Music and the Sausalito Art Festival, have already been put on pause. Still, art lovers have a few things to look forward to, beginning with the annual MarinScapes fine-art exhibit and sale that benefits recovery agency Buckelew Programs. Often held in June, the fundraiser debuts online this year May 28–31, capping Mental Health Month and marking Buckelew Programs’s 50th anniversary. Buckelew Programs serves North Bay individuals and families dealing with mental health and related behavioral health challenges. View and bid on art and other items online while supporting mental health in a time of crisis at buckelew.org/events/marinscapes.

Also in Marin, the “Lost Coast” exhibit brings local visions to life online via the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, opening with a virtual reception on June 6 at 5pm at marinmoca.org.

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