Orange County Theatre Reviews

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photo courtesy : The Chance Theatre in Anaheim DOUG CATILLER , TRUE IMAGE STUDIO

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

Mythic, terrifying legends that may or may not be true…the desire to be believed and believed in…family, love, and finding a way to overcome limitations -even if not in the way you expected.   All of these things are considered, looked at and valued in the Chance Theatre’s original musical Loch Ness.  With a charming cast, sweet songs, and beautiful stage pieces, this show is not worth one viewing, but two.

 We begin our tale focused on a twelve year old named Haley Westerbrook.  Haley is accompanying her father Dr. Thomas Westerbrook  and his crew on their mission to permanently establish whether or not there is a monster inhabiting the Scottish Loch Ness.  While struggling with family tensions, Haley makes a strange new friend who helps her overcome the challenges of loss, longing, and moving forward.

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photo courtesy : The Chance Theatre in Anaheim DOUG CATILLER , TRUE IMAGE STUDIO

With a moving stage, the audience is treated to the fairly simple yet aesthetically pleasing depiction of water, shore, and land.   A peaceful blue is cast over water scenes, while some casual bright lighting rules the day during the moments with the crew and townspeople. The puppetry in this show is excellent.  Detailed, realistic, potentially frightening and yet adorable at all of the appropriate moments.  The more amusing aspects of the puppets would not be possible without the onstage performers that accompany them.

 I cannot think of one false note amongst the performers onstage.  The singing is good. The acting is good. The movement is good.  The songs are pretty decent, especially considering they are sung almost entirely in Scottish accents (hey, they convinced me).  Julia Cassandra Smith and Katie Brown are  simultaneously strong and vulnerable as Haley and Nessie respectively.  One not only understands why these two individuals form a connection, but there is genuine sympathy for both of their plights.  Even in their most doubtful moments, they harbor certain beliefs and thought processes that the viewers can utterly relate to.  It warrants repeating that this is not simply due to the characters being well written, Smith and Brown are just delightful together.  As the cheerful Nessie, Brown is a bulwark of charm, and Smith’s conviction in bringing Haley to life has the audience rooting for her the entire time.

 If I could change something about this show it would undoubtedly be to increase Lady Callaghan’s stage time.  Played quirkily by Angelina Mirenda, her main motivations are perfectly clear by the end of her first song (which is a real toe-tapper by the way), and watching her struggle against Dr. Westerbrook’s (Jackson Tobiska) aggressive concerns inspires both pity and indignation in the best possible way.

 This is a fun, new musical that is tender without being overly sappy, and the interactions between all of the actors is well-done.  I recommend this show to you and yours.  Go see it!

 9/10

 January 30 —

Website

For more click this link to the exclusive video interview from the director of the play Video

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