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Review: LOCH LOMOND at Broadway Rose

LOCH LOMOND runs through October 24 at Broadway Rose's New Stage Auditorium.

Review: LOCH LOMOND at Broadway Rose

As a kid, my birthday parties weren't very popular because I always made everyone watch the movie adaptation of Brigadoon. I was obsessed with it -- the singing, the dancing, Cyd Charisse. Needless to say, a period musical that takes place in Scotland is right up my alley.

Set in during the Jacobite uprisings of 1745, LOCH LOMOND, which is currently having its world premiere at Broadway Rose, is at once a sweeping musical about desire (for independence, for glory, for love) and an intimate look at the many ties that bind people together.

The beginning of LOCH LOMOND finds two brothers from the Scottish Highlands going off to war. James, the younger one (played by Colin Stephen Kane) is in search of glory so he can stop living in the shadow of his older brother, Lyle (Benjamin Tissell). For his part, Lyle wants no part in the war, but follows his brother to protect him and make good on a vow. Before they see any action, the two end up in an English prison awaiting their fate and reflecting on how they got there and the loves they left behind -- Elspeth (Lyle's wife, played by Danielle Valentine) and Ailey (a young woman with a bad reputation, played by Hannah Lauren Wilson).

The story, which unfolds in a series of flashbacks, is well told. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that it's the kind of story that has likely played out in every war since time immemorial, and never with an entirely happy ending. In my hubris, I thought I had it all figured out early on, but there were some twists and turns that raised the stakes. Over the roughly two-hour performance, I heard several gasps, many sniffles, and a good amount of all-out crying. What absolute bliss to be in an audience reacting in real time to a live performance once again!

The score, with music by Neil Douglas Reilly and lyrics by Maggie Herskowitz (who also wrote the book), combines traditional Scottish folk ballads and Celtic-inspired contemporary music. The traditional, or at least the traditional-sounding, songs are beautiful and evocative, while the show occasionally struggles to hold onto its identity when the music strays into the contemporary. While all of the performers do justice to the music, Benjamin Tissell raises it to a different level. His full, rich voice filled the New Stage Auditorium and made me feel so completely the combination of love and loss that infuses the show.

Otherwise, Danielle Valentine (who IMO should always have at least one more song), owns the stage. Kane and Wilson are perfectly suitable as the young and impetuous James and Ailey, and Tissell as the duty-bound Lyle, but Valentine elevates Elspeth from what might be just a supporting character to the show's central rock. She's the most practical and the toughest of them all, but her joy and her pain run deep, and Valentine's understated performance caused my heart to flip-flop more than once.

Overall, LOCH LOMOND will transport you to a different time and place and fill your heart with emotion -- just the right kind of journey for this tentative time of re-gathering.

LOCH LOMOND runs through October 24. More details and tickets here: https://www.broadwayrose.org/loch-lomond/

Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer



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