Front Row Reviewers

Oct 8, 2023 | Reviews

Sleepy Hollow the Musical with West Valley Arts Is a Halloween Treat

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

Review By Alayna Een, Front Row Reviewers

Sleepy Hollow the Musical is an embellished adaptation of the great American folktale by Washington Irving “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” full of spooky secrets and strange happenings. The story starts with the small town losing yet another schoolmaster to the harmless but unrelenting spirits and poltergeists of the hollow. While they want a good teacher for their children, the residents of the hollow have another reason for their desperate desire to bring new people to the town: a witch’s curse. A decade earlier, a witch, jealous of her twin sister’s romance and determined to stop her rendezvouses, cursed the town, condemning future romances and making it impossible for the villagers to leave the hollow. Only by solving a strange riddle of heads and tails could the town be freed, and each new visitor to the hollow presents a new opportunity to end the curse once and for all. But when Ichabod Crane crosses the bridge into the town, Sleepy Hollow gets more than it bargained for.

Ichabod and Gunpowder

Ricky Parkinson puts the “icky” in Ichabod Crane, the entitled pedagogue who strides in and turns Sleepy Hollow on its head. He quickly recognizes the power that his position as potential curse-breaker gives and starts to wield it—with disastrous consequences. Parkinson emphasizes this, performing with a vocal and physical presence that demands attention.

Brom VanBron (Jordon LeBaron) is the hardworking, sturdy Sleepy Hollow native with a soft spot for the lovely Katrina Van Tassel (Emma Roberts). His resonant bass voice grounds the musical numbers and his bravery livens up the second act. His interactions with Roberts are charming, especially in their nuptial duet, “Your Heart with Mine.” Roberts has a clear soprano voice and sincere devotion to her family and the town that strengthens the heart of the story.

Katrina and Brom

The couple’s best friends are Faas and Rosalie Brinkerhoff (Joseph Paul Branca and Morgan Fenner), orphaned young adult siblings with a lightly mischievous and endearing energy. Faas’s teasing nature is tempered by his thoughtful attention to Rosalie, and Rosalie’s bluntness is lightened by her fear of the curse and her friendship with Katrina. Both phenomenal performers, Branca and Fenner become audience favorites as they embrace their roles with an energy that lifts the whole show.

The other residents of Sleepy Hollow include the simple but good-hearted Zander DeGroot (James Duncan), the wealthy and generous Balthus Van Tassel (Bryan Johnson), the prim and proper Van Rippers (Taylor Smith, Caroline Anderson, Luke Elzey, and Sofia Paredes-Kenrick), the honest and humble Tenbrooks (Emily Duncan, Mersedez Clifford, Soren Ray, and Cora Duncan), and the husband-hunting Sabine Vedder (Lauren Slagowski). Each actor contributes to the sense of a close-knit community through convincing familial ties, inside jokes, and personality quirks. The schoolhouse scene with the children growing in defiance and the neighborhood scene of the adults trying not to gossip highlight the town’s internal connections, but the real showstopper is “Upon…” in which the townspeople unite to share the hollow’s strange tales of Halloween to an increasingly unnerved Ichabod Crane.

The first act is a slow burn to the climactic Halloween scene and chase with the Headless Horseman, but the second act had me on the edge of my seat as the drama and intrigue continued beyond Washington Irving’s ending. Chock full of character revelations and curse reveals and reversals, the final scenes satisfactorily tie the story together with the hope of a brighter future for the residents of the restored Sleepy Hollow.

Jim Christian (playwright and director) adds interesting characters and clever twists to this classic Halloween tale to bring the legend new life onstage. And the crew is crucial in adding color and vibrancy to the stage adaptation. Brad Shelton (set design) rises to the challenge of a theater in the round, and I especially enjoyed the schoolroom setup, full of fun mechanics for the playful poltergeists. Kelsey Nichols (costume design) embraced the time period of the play while crafting distinct looks for each character. Ryan Fallis (lighting design) makes the curse’s effects and threats more visible and real to the audience and adds to the drama of the production.

Sleepy Hollow the Musical is a fun, family-friendly addition to spooky season’s theatrical offerings, and West Valley Arts offers a lively arts experience, complete with a themed art show and creative concessions. So add a little hollow in your Halloween and head over to West Valley, Utah!

A review by Front Row Reviewers.
West Valley Arts presents Sleepy Hollow the Musical by Jim Christian (book and lyrics) and Tom Edward Clark (music)
West Valley Performing Arts Center, 3333 S, Decker Lake Dr. West Valley City, UT 84119 
October 5 to 30, 2023 at 7:30 PM. Thursday‑Saturday, and Monday, October 30
Tickets: $18–25
Facebook page  
Contact: 801-965-5140,
Box Office Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Front Row Reviewers

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