The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by NYMT
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by NYMT
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is by Helen Watts (book) and Eamonn O’Dwyer (music and lyrics) is based on the short story by Washington Irving although many of us will know it due to the 1999 film starring Jonny Depp.
In Sleepy Hollow they are all wary of newcomers and nevermore so when this newcomer will be teaching their children. Ichabod Crane is the new teacher and soon fills the children’s head with science rather than supernatural beliefs. It is not just the children of the town he has an effect on however and he meets Katrina, the daughter of the wealthy landlord. When her father dies however she must make up her mind, marry her fiancé and local man to keep the farm in local hands or marry for love but see the land sold on. This decision is never an easy one but each choice is heightened by the fact they are in a town of supernatural occurrences and the events come to a head on Hallows eve.
A lot of time was spent building up tension and atmosphere in this show and whilst this was always done with great effect it did mean that for large periods of time not a lot happened in terms of moving the plot along. That being said even when the plot wasn’t being developed at a steady pace every moment of the show was delivered stylishly and with such attention to detail. I must applaud director Alex Sutton who achieved a huge amount of light and shade throughout the show, tender scenes of love verses jumping out of my skin with shock, each as gripping as the next. Even simple things such as the movement of the set, from crates to the trees was carefully considered, resulting in seamless transitions, particularly important when the tension and mood was heightening.
I also enjoyed the choreography with ‘We Used To Think The Earth Was Flat’ being a prime example of this. This is the number where Ichabod teaches the children about science and mathematics. Cydney Uffindell-Phillips movement was relevant and whilst looking simple was deceptive in it’s precision and therefore effectiveness. Not a single member of the ensemble was out of time and succeed in the task of being totally in sync whilst maintaining their individual character.
The cast were indisputably strong with no weak links. Whilst it is always hard for youth groups to age up on the whole this was managed very well. It was only as far as Lisbeth Van Fleet was concerned that this was an issue. Katrina Van Fleet gave a standout performance as the conflicted leading lady. She was played by Hayley Canham who had a sweet, pure singing voice, ideal for this role. Ichabod was played by George Renshaw and he had a great charisma about him. Jade Oswald played Sabine, the townswoman with supernatural gifts and her haunting voice sent chills up my spine.
The set was well considered, with trees scattered across the back of the stage which could be moved by the cast as required. The addition of leaves was a lovely thought giving texture to the set. The lighting, designed by Christopher Nairne used a weaponry of lighting effects with atmospheric pools of light, sudden blackouts and flashes of light, it was vital in building up the tension throughout the show.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an perfect example of how to build up tension in theatre. Eerie, stylish and chilling, I urge you to go see this masterclass in direction and a wonderfully talented young cast whilst supporting new musical theatre!
To find out more about the show and NYMT please visit their website.