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 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.
With a moving stage, the audience is treated to the reasonably 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 appropriate moments. The more amusing aspects of the puppets would not be possible without the onstage performers accompanying 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 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 characters. 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 well-written characters. 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 evident 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, tender musical without being overly sappy, and the interactions between all the actors are well-done. I recommend this show to you and yours. See it!
January 30 —
For more, click this link to the exclusive video interview with the director of the playing Video.