It was nearly the end of the first act. The lead actress took her position onstage for "I Got Rhythm," the band took it from the top, and—poof! Lights out. Power out. Everything out in the winery ruins at Jack London State Park, where Transcendence Theatre Company played to a sold-out crowd of 820 people suddenly sitting in the dark. The outage, it was soon learned, was citywide.
"Of course, we had about 10 minutes where we were, like, 'Oh my, God, do we have to send everybody home?'" says Transcendence executive director Stephan Stubbins. But some Glen Ellen firefighters were in the house and offered to illuminate the stage via their truck's floodlight. A couple generators were found for the PA, with "literally just enough gas to turn on but not to run," says Stubbins, then Mike Benziger of Benziger Winery showed up from his nearby house with two cans of gas. A bullhorn was used for announcements, lanterns were scattered on the stage as makeshift footlights, and the show went on as planned under a bright moon. "It was so special," Stubbins says of the collective wonder in the audience. "Everybody felt like they shared something."
There are only two more shows in Transcendence's "Broadway Under the Stars" series, and lovers of top-notch theater songs and dances performed by nimble and quick-witted off-season professionals shouldn't hesitate. The season-closing Gala Celebration is on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 30–31, at Jack London State Park. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. 7:30pm; picnicking starts at 5pm. $29–$69. 877.424.1414.