Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

The Sandman
Majestic Repertory Theatre
Review by Mary LaFrance

Daz Weller and Steffan Scrogan
Photo by Miranda Alam
Run, don't walk, to see The Sandman, the delightfully creepy, fun, and over-the-top musical making its spectacular American premiere at the Majestic Repertory Theatre in the Las Vegas Arts District. This is not just a one-off holiday season special event. It's an eminently stage-worthy show that will entertain audiences of every stripe.

The Sandman is the demented brain-child of Richard Oberacker (music, book and lyrics) and Robert Taylor (book and lyrics), the creative team behind the 2017 Broadway musical Bandstand. The plot is a Tim Burtonesque gothic fantasy: A malevolent presence threatens the lives of a young German clockmaker and his family, and it seems that only the children have a chance to save them. With its lively music, clever lyrics, dark themes, and magnificently etched characters, The Sandman could be the unholy spawn of Sweeney Todd and The Nutcracker. Indeed, it shares considerable DNA with the latter; the book is derived from the stories of E.T.A. Hoffman, whose writings also provided the source material for The Nutcracker.

Director Troy Heard has assembled a stellar cast. Annette Houlihan Verdolino, who wowed audiences as Mrs. Lovett in Majestic's Sweeney Todd, makes a dazzling return as the children's unsavory governess, Fraulein Kaeseschweiss, who could easily be Mrs. Lovett's even creepier cousin. Daz Weller is a force of nature as the wild-haired Dr. Coppelius, a cross between snake oil salesman and Frankenstein-ish mad scientist. The winsome young parents are played to perfection by the supremely talented Lauren Ashlea Fraser and Steffan Scrogan. Three gifted young performers bring the children to life: Khloe Judd as Theresa; Alora Rivera as Nathaniel; and the formidable Ashlee Grubbs as Clara.

The production is visually appealing as well. Jeffrey Weber's marvelous set design features intricate details and numerous hidden doors. The performers are lavishly kitted out in RuBen Permel's stunning costumes topped off with Natalia Castilla's picture-perfect wigs and make-up. Creative projections and puppetry are the icing on this fantastical cake.

To say more would spoil the surprise. Troy Heard and the Majestic Repertory Theatre have given The Sandman a magical first outing.

The Sandman runs through November 28, 2021, with performances Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m., at Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas, NV. For tickets ($35 general admission, $25 for 18 and under) and further information, please visit Proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test is required for entry.

Cast: Fraulein Kaeseschweiss: Annette Houlihan Verdolino
Doctor Coppelius: Daz Weller
Albert Strauss: Steffan Scrogan
Maria Strauss: Lauren Ashlea Fraser
Nathaniel Strauss: Alora Rivera
Theresa Strauss: Khloe Judd
Clara Stahlbaum: Ashlee Grubbs
Youth Swing: Alysia McCarthy

Additional Creative: Music Director: Brandon Scott Grayson
Musical Staging: Monica Johns
Lighting Design: Marcus Randolph
Sound Design: Jeremy Gill
Projection Design: Steffan Scrogan
Prop Design: Justin Lex, Laney Hill