Off-Broadway theatre has a special charm all its own, and Glass Slipper Theatrical’s musical version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is no exception. Housed in the cozy New 42nd Street Theatre, a short trip up the stairs and past Sluggo the Cat (a real theatre cat, the Wintergarden closure not withstanding) finds you transported to Tarrytown, New York in (the 1800’s?) where the townspeople seem to be mainly young and romantic with marriage on their minds. In this setting spins the well-known tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.
The real center of the story, however, is the romantic triangle of superstitious Ichabod (the local schoolmaster), his competitor in love, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel, the object of their mutual affection.
Eric Hunsley’s Ichabod is, visually, the cartoon character come to life, but his voice and sweetly earnest expressions make him endearing to both the women in the town and the audience in general. Brom, played by Brain Eric Stivale, reminded me of Brian Stokes Mitchell and seemed to have great fun as he and Hunsley acted out that classic competition of brain versus brawn in the chase of love. The character of the vain, pretty, young Miss Van Tassel, played by Megan McCrea, at times seemed in danger of slipping off into an annoying stereotype, but a funny line of conceit, sung like an innocent angel, or the glimpse into her hopelessly romantic mind during the song “The Invisible World,” kept us solidly on her side.
Key to this play are the wonderful actors playing the “minor” roles such as Wayman Ezell’s smoothly deadpanned, sarcastic Mr. Van Tassel, and the energetic interplay among the three school children in the town, played by Jessica Grant, Robby Sharpe, and the Amanda Joy Taraska. Not to be outdone, we have the comic gossips of Miss Danish and Mrs. Strudel, played delightfully by Rhonda Ayers and Carol Carota, respectively. Last but not least we have the classic comic foil to Brom Bones, Lars, played by Ed Smit. The interplay between Brom and Lars again brought to mind a cartoon comparison, but this one the tavern scene between Gaston and LeFou in Beauty and the Beast.
The music by Eric Baum and lyrics by Meg Belviso contained several memorable, fun numbers, such as the upbeat choral round in “That’s How Learning Starts” or the male posturing in “Who Needs Schoolin’” as well as gentle ballads (the aforementioned “The Invisible World”) and finally the outright ironic “The Hymn” where the ladies in the play gently sing of a hell “Where demons gnaw my toes, my eyes pecked out by crows.”
Though never insipid, the frights in this play are pretty much left up to the imagination, so it is suitable for older children as well as their adult chaperones. Give it a try, because “The man who lives by reason might meet ghosts at night.”
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow