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. - Natasha Ashley
"Loch Ness" has the lush, immersive feel of a Broadway show and surpasses many of the touring companies that come through Central New York. While all own their roles, Kushnier's Thomas and Hedges' Haley offer next-level performances, Kushnier opening up new vistas of promise and redemption in "Sailing Forward," Hedges a musical Greta Thunberg with her relentlessness and passion. While individual bows weren't a part of the close on opening night, the audience -- already on its feet with a standing ovation -- exploded as the two acknowledged the applause. -Linda Lowen
The most impressive ballad in "Loch Ness: A New Musical" surfaces about half an hour into the show.
And it's sung by a 12-year-old girl. Titled "Hold On," the ballad takes place as Haley Westerbrook (Kaylin Hedges) sets sail alone on the Scottish lake in search of her mother, who disappeared in a plane crash there. Hedges hits one impassioned note after another, and sustains them beyond a singer of her age would appear capable. But she captures the hurt and confusion that would befall any young girl who lost her mother so suddenly, so mysteriously. Hedges does this throughout the show, too. Whether she's vying for the attention of her work-obsessed father, Thomas (Jeremy Kushnier), or disobeying the crew of the ship he commands, the youngster is at once vulnerable and unstoppable. She's the kind of child you could hug and scold in the same breath. -David Wilcox