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Theatre Review: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

What happens when good people make bad choices? Hazel Hall steps through the doors of the Old Electric and is transported to 1820s New England to find out

On Wednesday 12th April 2023, I had the pleasure of watching The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow at The Old Electric. This new musical by Helen Watts and Eamonn O’Dwyer is based on the 1820 short story by Washington Irving and tells the story of the people who live in a small village called Sleepy Hollow where they are plagued by tales of spooky creatures and mysterious beings.

Throughout the story, we meet a variety of characters such as Ichabod Crane (Dan Hudson), a schoolteacher who joins the community from New York to teach the children of the village. On his arrival, Ichabod is told of local legends by some of the villagers who arrive to greet him and seems to think that they are all mad. He then comes across Katrina Van Tassel – an heiress who is the only daughter of Baltus Van Tassel (Chris Sandiford) and her fiancé, Abraham Van Brunt (also known as Brom, played by Jordan Walker-Smith) who instantly takes a dislike to Crane. As the show progresses, this dislike grows into a great hatred.

As we get further into the story, we learn that the rest of the villagers don’t like that Van Tassel who takes a rather large percentage of what the villagers grow. With the the help of Brom, they conspire to try and buy their farms.

One night Katrina meets Crane and tells him the story of the Whippoorwill, a bird said to carry the souls of the departed to heaven after they pass away. Crane instantly takes a liking to Katrina and goes in for a kiss. Despite being engaged to Brom, she sees something in the eyes of Crane, and it unable to pull herself away. Then the horror unfolds.

As the spirits of the Hollow Wood grow restless, and as the hooves of the Headless Horseman thunder ever nearer, Katrina is forced to make a choice that will change the fate of Sleepy Hollow forever.
Local theatre company Junction 4 Productions are behind the musical, which is performed at the Old Electric until 16th April. Directed by Mykey Young and with musical direction by Rob Rainford, it’s a highly professional production that has clearly been painstakingly rehearsed.

Nikita Coulon’s Katrina Van Tassel was absolute perfection. She manages to at once capture the character’s beauty and grace as well as the inner turmoil of a woman torn between two men that mean so much to her. Callum Morley’s portrayal of Marcus, a rather disgruntled villager, was also superb and made me think that in a previous life, he must have lived in a quaint and mysterious village like Sleepy Hollow.

The entire cast, including several young members from Triple Arts Academy, was impressively slick and everyone behind the scenes at Junction 4 Productions did a brilliant job of bringing this classic tale of mystery and suspense to life for a new audience within such an amazing theatre space in Blackpool. The Old Electric doesn’t have a traditional stage and much of the planning has clearly been site specific.

To opening up opportunities for local people to be involved in such a high calibre piece of theatre – both on stage and in areas including music, lighting and costume design, is something that can’t be praised highly enough and will ensure that the Legend of Sleepy Hollow lives on long after the proverbial curtain falls on this brilliant production.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is at the Old Electric until Saturday. Book here.

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