Encore Stage & Studio presents The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, based on the classic ghost story by Washington Irving and stage-adapted for a younger audience by Vera Morris. Director Susan Alison Keady leads a large troupe of young actors with great success in this spooky production.
More so than the plot itself, which was lightened considerably to be made family-friendly, the eerie aspect of the show comes from technical features. Technical Director and Set Designer Kristen Jepperson uses a filtered screen and fog effects to create a hazy air amongst the tombstones, while Sound Designer Matthew Heap employs effects such as cawing crows and solemn church bells. Lighting Designer and Mater Technician Gary Hauptman completes the atmosphere with dimmed hues. The time and setting (a countryside Dutch settlement circa 1790, respectively) is shown through the costumes, designed by Debra Leonard. It’s breeches and bonnets all around for this cast!
In the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow, the townsfolk like to keep themselves entertained by trading local ghost stories, the most famous being that of a headless horseman…but are they just stories? When haughty newcomer Ichabod Crane (Colin Meek) finds himself in some peculiar circumstances, questions arise. Could it be that the mischievous Brom Bones (a talented performance by Brody Karton) is stirring up trouble to keep Ichabod from getting close to his resistant love interest, Katrina Van Tassel (Maggie Keane), or is the town actually haunted? Could it be both?
The cast is a young one and they are still developing their craft, but they were a lot of fun to watch and showed great enthusiasm. Colin Meek does a fine job with physical comedy, and I particularly enjoyed a scene that started as a group dance and turned into a game of cat-and-mouse. I also loved little Adelina Hartley as the ghostly Woman In White, which was a standout performance even though she didn’t have a single line of dialogue. When Widow Van Dorn (Robin Messner) gets too close for comfort to the Woman In White’s widowed husband, she finds cheeky ways to keep them apart from beyond the grave, and gains quite a few laughs from the audience in the process.
While the scariness is dialed back quite a bit and there are a lot of humorous parts in this play, it can still get pretty spooky at times, so it is recommended for children 6 and up. If you’re not yet quite ready to take your Jack-O-Lantern off the porch yet, then Encore Stage & Studio’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a great choice for a fun family night.
Running Time: 90 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.