Review: The Rev Theatre Company Presents a Breathtaking Production of LOCH NESS, A NEW MUSICAL in the Merry – Go – Round Playhouse

By: Sep. 30, 2019
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Review: The Rev Theatre Company Presents a Breathtaking Production of LOCH NESS, A NEW MUSICAL in the Merry – Go – Round Playhouse
Kaylin Hedges, Cathryn Wake, and Nessie, (voiced by Lindsay Nicole Chambers) in The Rev Theatre Company's production of Loch Ness, A New Musical.
Photo by Ron Heerkens Jr. / GFMedia.

The Rev Theatre Company has brought a new Broadway-bound musical to the Finger Lakes and specifically, Auburn's Merry - Go - Round Playhouse. Loch Ness, A New Musical features spellbinding performances, breathtaking artistry, and moving music under the superb direction of Marshall Pailet. The beauty, the detail, and unique presentation makes this like no other musical; it is truly something special.

The new and heartwarming musical features a music and book by Marshall Pailet and lyrics and book by A. D. Penedo. The production includes creative ensemble storytelling and intriguing puppetry, beautifully choreographed by Misha Shields, to deliver an enchanting story of a father and daughter's journey to discover the legendary creature, the Loch Ness monster Nessie, down in the waters of the Scottish Highlands, while at the same time, rediscovering their relationship. Their relationship was always distant, but shattered even more after the recently loss of Haley's Mother in a tragic crash. Haley (Kaylin Hedges) believes that this sailing trip with her Father, Thomas (Jeremy Kushnier) may lead her to her Mother. She believes that there is still a chance that she is alive and lost in the waters. The epic and fascinating musical centers on love, loss, relationships, and - most of all - finding your way in the most unexpected place.

The boat, the underwater world, and the monster effortlessly come to life in this visionary production, which is a testament to the entire creative team. Paul Tate DePoo III scenic design allows for effortless scene changes, which in turn allows the story to flow beautifully. Jake DeGroot's lighting plays off the emotional and powerful story and the result is stunning. Alfonso Annotto's wig design is spot on. Sarah Cubbage's costumes help the ensemble to become one to embody the ever-changing Nessie. Similarly, Misha Shields choreography and Cubbage's costumes also help the monster come to life in the most innovative way.

Madeline Smith directs a live seven-person orchestra that plays Marshall Pailet's powerful and passionate music in such an astonishing way. The music is truly breathtaking and A. D. Penedo's mesmerizing lyrics keep you on the edge of your seat. The cast belts out powerhouse number after powerhouse number. The music is pure magic.

The entire ensemble works together to create the body of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. Her shape is constantly changing, and the staging allows the audience to imagine what shape she is based on the placement of the ensemble. Some of the ensemble cast pass the puppet face of Nessie around while others control the puppet tail. Sam Jay Gold is the lead puppeteer and he often controls Nessie's front head while Lindsay Nicole Chambers is close by and providing the legendary creature's voice. The unique and detailed approach to the puppetry element creates magic on stage.

Lindsay Nicole Chambers provides the voice of Nessie and she delivers a killer performance. She belts out every number with such passion, energy, and emotion. Her confidence, line delivery, comedic timing, and passion for the role take center stage. Among my favorites are her knockout performances of "The Second Encounter" and "Mist and Shadows" and her duet with Kaylin Hedges, who portrays Haley. Act One ends with the powerful musical number "Comes the Moment" featuring Haley, Nessie, and the Company; it's truly extraordinary. The sentimental and emotional number "In Its Place," which features Nessie and Haley in an underwater nook, is absolutely chilling due to the staging. The two are suspended from the rafters hanging on to rope ladders along with some of the ensemble. Chambers' vocals are the heart of the show.

Kaylin Hedges wows the audience from start to finish as the stubborn, smart, and spitfire Haley Westerbrook. Her voice is spot on perfection in every musical number. Her professionalism, maturity, confidence, and talent are beyond her years. She commands the stage as Haley. Her number "Hold On" - sung while she is on a dinghy on the loch - is one of the best musical moments I have seen on stage in a long time. She also delivers a moving an expressive performance of "Something's Down There." The control, precision, and power in her voice are truly stunning. Kaylin Hedges is the definition of a Broadway star as indicated by her jaw-dropping performance.

Cathryn Wake delivers a memorable performance as the musical's villainous character, Lady Leana Callaghan. Lady Callaghan is determined to prove that she has seen this legendary creature before. She needs the photograph to prove it and get the inheritance from her family. She will stop at nothing to prove that what her family calls an obsession and silly is, in fact, real. Wake shows off amazing range and character acting skills. Her musical numbers "Do Whatever We Can," "I Know that Face," "The Chase," and "Betrayal" are among some of the most memorable and favorite musical numbers in the show. She delivers a very commanding and confident performance.

Jeremy Kushnier as Thomas Westerbrook, Haley's father, delivers a moving and emotional performance. His crisp and clear vocals standout in "Sailing Forward" and the emotional number "Your Mother's Child" is his standout moment.

Brennan Caldwell delivers comedic performance as CJ. His line delivery is spot-on and his stage presence is noteworthy. His musical number, "The Maybe," with another audience favorite, Joseph Medeiros as the Oiler, features blindfolded sword fighting, dancing, and intoxicating energy that captivate the audience.

Sarah Killough plays Annabel Westbrook, Haley's Mother. She delivers a beautiful performance in the chilling opening number "Chí Mi Na Mòrbheanna." Killough's vocals are angelic and soar with such grace and precision in the Scottish-inspired number. Matthew Quinn delivers a comedic and memorable performance as Mr. Ogilvie.

The Rev Theatre Company's production of Loch Ness, A New Musical is one of the most creative, unique, and chilling musicals I have seen in a long time. The production is fresh, new, and exciting. It is a visionary and artistic masterpiece. This Broadway-bound musical is perfect for the entire family and is not to be missed. Loch Ness, A New Musical is, in fact, the best production of a musical that has graced the stage of the Merry - Go - Round Playhouse.

Running time: Approximately two and half hours with one fifteen-minute intermission.

The Rev Theatre Company's production of Loch Ness, A New Musical in the Merry - Go - Round Playhouse runs though October 13, 2019 in Auburn, New York. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions, click here or call the box office at 315.255.1785.


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