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Wine Country Connection | Amy Miller

Amy-MiTranscendence Theater Company blog


 

 

 

 

 


Amy Miller

CEO, Co-founder
Transcendence Theater Company

 

All About Amy Miller

I am Amy Miller, I’m from Cincinnati Ohio, but I was actually born in Virginia. My dad was in the army, so I was only there for five weeks before we moved to Ohio. I started dancing when I was five, but I was the worst dancer at my studio and I wanted to quit so bad and my mother wouldn’t let me. She said, “You know, you’re not a quitter.” I remember the exact moment I told my mother I wanted to quit and she would not let me. I eventually found a great love for dance and the performing arts and ended up going to school for theater. I swear I wasn’t the best in anything, but I had a really really hard work ethic and I just kept going and believed anything was possible. Now, I am glad I did! I ended up on Broadway and now managing my own theater company.

Thanks to my amazing mom.

Amy Miller Quote 1

Yep, and I carry with me another lesson that she taught me, “Anything that you set your mind to, you can do. Anything that you believe you can do, you can do.” She’s always repeats that saying regardless of how many obstacles I had; and I had a lot of obstacles to hurtle.

Breaking News – “Mom I have to Quit School”

I initially wanted to be a broadcaster and initially that’s what I went to school for; journalism. On the first day of college, I went to my mom that night and I say, “I have to quit!” I knew I was supposed to be doing theater and needed to drop out. She supported whatever decision I made.

It was very scary, and somewhat of a risk and that’s why I actually majored in theater education. I have a little bit of a pattern of tiptoeing into plans and not fully committing. I didn’t fully study performance, but a safer bet, student teaching. My parents said if I wanted to continue pursuing theater or to be in any of the shows, I wouldn’t be able to do it because I would have students to teach. That discussion motivated met to drop my education major. That was a big deal for my family, but my mom believed in it. In turn, the balls were in motion and I had to commit to this. I’m really going to go forth and move to New York. My parents supported the decision 100%.

Dancing Her Way from 42nd Street To Broadway

I did a lot of different summer stock (plays) and some regional theater. Then I got one of my first big breaks doing the national tour of 42nd Street. So I toured in that show for almost two years and got to play all the big houses all over the United States.

When that tour closed, the producers were looking for people to be replacements in the Broadway production of the 42nd Street. You know how I told you I’m not the best dancer? I mean, I’m actually a great dancer, but I get very nervous and I would always mess up at auditions. It was embarrassing, so I chose to not go to the audition for the replacements for the Broadway production, even though I had already done it on tour. I didn’t want to humiliate myself in front of my friends. All of them went to auditions. And who did they call to give the part to? ME! It felt like the universe or whatever is pulling me wherever I am supposed to go. So I might be one of the only people that got to be on Broadway, but didn’t audition.

Inspiring Others with Her Love for Musical Theater

I just think musical theater is one of the best ways to communicate to people. It’s an energy that involves music, dance, and dialogue.  It is a unique art form that has a combination of dancing, singing and comedy. I always listen to musicals because of their uplifting music.

Listening to Broadway songs, like Defying Gravity, made me believe as a young child that anything was possible. So I think that’s what I love so much about musical theater, and it leads to my energy.

I started in theater, but then I moved to TV and sound, which was wonderful and very different from theater. It grounded me, but I really missed that energy exchange between people within a live theater. You don’t get that in TV films at all. I have a love for both of them, but I think that the overarching goal of musical theater is to really touch people’s souls and change the energy of their lives. I love when someone comes into a theater for two hours and experience the singing, dancing and commotion then walk out with a with a heart that’s beating and feeling all types of emotions. They walk out feeling better about a challenge they are facing. It is a very healing art form.

Amy Miller Quote 2

Planting the Transcendence Seed with a Viral YouTube Video

It all started while I was doing a production of A Chorus Line at Naples Dinner Theater in Florida, and I was watching the performance that took place right after ours, called The Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Farm”. Brad Surosky, my now husband and COO of Transcendence Theater Company, was in that production. So funny things DID happen on the way to the farm! We started to date and then we’ve been together ever since and got married, for about 16 years.

First, Brad told me he loved me for the first time on the Sanibel Captiva Islands in Florida. We flew back there five years later and that’s where he proposed to me. Later on, that’s where we had our wedding and that’s where the famous wedding toast was done.

 

 

The Serendipitous Path to Transcendence

Brad is a very romantic and wonderful. On that wedding day, my heart just exploded. I was bawling tears of happiness and everybody I loved was there. There was this amazing energy all around me. Almost euphoric.

I told myself that day, “I want to share this energy with other people”. We should all be together, we should be doing shows, together. That was the birthplace of the initial idea of Transcendence. At my wedding I went around telling everyone “I just always want to be with you guys”. I was feeling so much love and positive emotion. I had to replicate it.

Amy Miller Quote 3

The way the video unfolds was perfect because it starts off slow in the beginning, but over time you see my friends and family members pop-up and sing. The emotional buildup and timing is perfect, just like a musical.

Defining the Goal – Sharing Special Moments in Life

I think my initial concept, for what is now known as Transcendence Theater Company came from simply wanting to share love with people and celebrate the special moments of life; which coincidentally is what weddings do. I think every day should be about celebrating life and love, and being with the people you love.

When we got back to LA we were doing TV and film and I desperately missed all of our loved ones from the wedding and being a part of the theater. I missed people and using whatever drives my uniqueness, or my energy, to share and uplift everyone around me.

That crucial moment is when I started on my path to Transcendence. The idea was to put together a top-secret video with my idea and I sent it to my friends in the industry. At that point we decided to go on a random vacation to Mexico.

I already envisioned seeing a theater down in Mexico, so it was just so serendipitous that everything unfolded the way it did.  I was in the middle of talking about Transcendence and there was a little theater on the side of the dirt road performing Nunsense, the musical.

At the end of our trip we went to return the key from the lady we rented our house from. There are so many coincidences involved – If we rented a different house, we never would have returned the key to that lady, who just happened to be on the board of the theater. If you could believe our luck, the board members gave us the theater for free. So we had everyone come down to Mexico. I mean, we had a free theater to rehears in. I felt like I was being guided on this journey.

For a while we went down there and did various projects. For four months we moved down there with no money. Everything we do in Transcendence today, we did down in Mexico, but in a much smaller scale. It was a trial experiment to see if the concept gave good energy. Is this really going to work?

Concept Proven, But Where To from Here?

From there we did a research trip across the whole United States. We had to decide between Naples, Florida and Sonoma, California. If it wasn’t for the parks in Naples being closed down, we would may have never landed at Jack London State Park. All of these impossible coincidences came true, leading us to where we are today.

Amy Miller Quote 4

Yeah it’s just incredible. For that reason, we keep trusting. That is one thing Sonoma has taught me.

What Makes Sonoma Magical?

We have been doing shows in Marin and doing the Broadway Under the Stars shows in Jack London State Park. The backdrop, all that history and the energy within the community there is just special. It’s the Valley of the Moon! It’s a special place, I think it’s a very healing place for people.

Everyone has to come! It’s just so beautiful and euphoric. You cry, you smile, and you can feel the energies of that place. It’s the same energy that was felt when my heart exploded on my wedding day.

The aesthetics of the location, talented cast and support from the community is amazing.We wouldn’t be here without everyone in the community. It’s amazing what everybody can accomplish together with a common goal.

Reasons Why Transcendence Theater Company Loves Sonoma

  • the energy within community
  • the philanthropy in the community
  • the selflessness of the community; people really care here.
  • each and every one of the donors, sponsors, and volunteers
  • the location of Sonoma Valley and surrounding Bay Area
  • the picturesque quality of the Valley

The magic you feel while attending one of our performances, is so important to us. We have to make you feel it. I think you can feel that energy in the park. The whole Sonoma community comes together and supports. It’s just like how our company is built. We especially love the community members, in addition to the professional perspective, just the people that I get to see, greet and say, “Hi” to in the streets, or on my way to Peet’s coffee.

Amy Miller Quote 6

People are coming to Sonoma Valley from around the world for the weather and the beauty. I just think it is so beautiful here.

We were still living in Los Angeles because at that point we didn’t make enough money to pay ourselves yet. We made the official decision to make the permanent move to Sonoma after the first Transcendence season.  Stephen Stubbins, our co-Executive Director, had already moved up to Sonoma a year prior, and it felt like the right time. We had to go. The next season was going to happen, so I had to ask people to let us stay in their houses for free. Because of them we are here and thriving!

All About Transcendence Theater Company

  • It’s going into its sixth season
  • Over 81,000 people have come to see our shows
  • 400+ performers over the lifespan of the company

The Performers:

One unique aspect about our company is we work with referrals only.
Here we have a very special company culture, and want to make sure that they show up, respect the values of the company and care about the community. So we asked friends to refer people to be considered for it. They go through an online application, send videos and there are interviews that are done on Skype. Because everyone is a friend of a friend of a friend, we have faith in the quality of the talent coming through our doors. Over the past years there have been over 400 different artists that have come to Sonoma to perform in the shows – which is just amazing. Typically we see half of the cast returning and half of the cast is new talent. Most of them are based in New York or Los Angeles and a couple of them have relocated here.

All About The Current Season

 

Another_Openin_Another_Show

I’m so very excited, I mean the cast just arrived and we’re working on the show, Another Openin’Another Show. It’s about, it’s actually going to be very cool. We’re exploring the 10-year adventure of Transcendence that all of us have been a part of.  It’s still all Broadway songs, like there will be a song that represents the saving of Jack London State Park and there’s a song that represents the time when the park was in trouble. There is a song about the moment we were in Mexico, when we’re needed to ‘walk our talk’, you know, so we perform ‘Walk Like a Man’ from Jersey Boys.  We are going to deliver the great Broadway Under The Stars story that everyone is expecting.

Amy Miller Quote 7

Everyone has gone through the highs and lows of going after their dreams, so we’re excited to get the audience invigorated to keep going out into a world to accomplish whatever they aspire to. The theme is “Rise up! We are in this together!”

I’m performing more now than I may have in the past. I have been so busy with the company, but I am excited to get back to performing. You can find me in the first show this season!

Fantastical_Family_Night

July 14-15

It’s so much fun! The kid campers are going to be with us again and we are going to explore one’s inner child. Then we go adventuring to discover their dreams.  It is always a fun show!

 

Fascinating_Rhythm

August 4-20

This is our big dance show this season. It’s going to have all different kinds of dance and I’m really excited about the music that they’ve been working on. Matt Smart is our resident music coordinator here and they’ve been really putting some cool music together. It’s going to be a fun summer celebration.

Gala_Celebration

September 8-10

This event is always the big culmination of the season. It is our opportunity to thank the community for another great season. We host this to wrap up the year at the Field of Dreams.

True Appreciation:
Giving Back to the Community that She loves

I am proud to say that this season we are doing our second outreach project at the Boys and Girls Club. Each cast group that comes in is going to be doing an educational workshop with the kids and then the boys and girls are able to come have a picnic, see the show and interact during the performance. We have a holiday show and a spring show now, so this happens about 6 times throughout the year. This is our opportunity to get more people involved and to give back our talents to the community.

Transcendence Theater Company Community Projects

We have also done shows for the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, along with some other great organizations, including: Willmar Grief & Healing (SAY), Teen Services Sonoma, and many more.

  Amy Miller Quote 8

Thanks to the community we are here for another season. We are so excited to show the community the fruits of our hard work. Thank you and welcome to Transcendence Theater Company!

 

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