Scary, funny and a little bit silly, Sleepy Hollow captures the Halloween spirit

Review of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Cindy C.

It was a dark and stormy night – perfect conditions to see one of the most classic Halloween stories brought to life by the Driftwood Players on a small stage in Edmonds - Washington Irving’s classic story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

I had never been to Edmonds, let alone to the Wade James Theatre, so I was surprised at the small size of the venue. The maximum occupancy was 220, which might seem small but turned out to be surprisingly cozy. Before the show, people of all ages, from toddlers dressed up in Halloween costumes to seniors, mingled in the warm lobby.

The only interpretation of Sleepy Hollow I knew about before seeing this production was Tim Burton’s macabre film version, with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. However this production was fun, appropriate for all ages and perfect for getting into the spirit of Halloween. Ichabod Crane (Scot Garrett), a new schoolmaster from Connecticut, competes with Brom (William H. Bowen), a man who is as crude as Crane is educated, for the affections of Katrina Van Tassel (Jesse Roth), the beautiful daughter of Baltus Van Tassel (Dennis Heetbrink). In addition, Sleepy Hollow is haunted by various spirits, most famous of whom is the Headless Horseman.

The actors are well-suited to their parts, and their genuine enjoyment of playing these parts is evident in every line. Garrett is delightfully awkward and endearing, because Ichabod doesn’t quite fit in with the town. He also channels Johnny Depp’s memorable performance as he jumps and trembles in fear of the Headless Horseman (and the sight of blood). Yet Garrett also conveys Ichabod’s confidence along with spot-on comedic timing, especially when fighting over Katrina with Brom. Bowen couldn’t have been more perfect for the part of Brom – it would have been easy to hate Brom in the hands of a lesser actor. But thanks to Bowen, Brom is almost lovable, as he delights in taunting Ichabod (which provides for some hilarious moments) and provides a contrast to Ichabod’s refined manner towards Katrina.

Though Sleepy Hollow has elements of a horror story (like the Headless Horseman), under the direction of Rachel Bowen the tone is much more lighthearted. The townspeople take delight in poking fun at Ichabod’s fear of ghosts and ghouls, providing ample comic relief in addition to the hilarious physical comedy of both Brom and Ichabod as they fight for Katrina’s affections. Not only are the comedic elements present, but the horror elements are as well. When the Headless Horseman finally appears on stage, the use of lighting and shadows to create a monstrous effect are impressive, especially for a venue of this size.

This play was made for the community, by the community. That much was evident throughout the show. The children sitting in the audience were delighted by the slapstick humor and frightened by the Headless Horseman. The teens and adults in the audience were treated to a few in-jokes as well, including the use of the Star Wars“Imperial March” in one hilarious scene with Ichabod primping for a date with Katrina. After the show, audience and cast members lingered in the lobby to chat, and there was a dessert table as well. The general atmosphere was warm and everyone seemed to know each other, congratulating each other on their accomplishments.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a perfect Halloween treat for the whole family, and I highly recommend it. With only one act at around 50 minutes, Sleepy Hollow is part of the Driftwood Players’ Alternative Stages productions. It is a great example of how unconventional formats can work to a play’s advantage. Sleepy Hollow is scary, funny, and just a little silly – just like Halloween itself.

- Cindy C.
October 19th, 2007

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Edmonds Driftwood Players
Through October 28th
More info and show times:
Driftwood Players’ Ticket Office: 425-774-9600
Ticket Office Hours: Open for phone calls 10 – 6 Tuesday – Saturday. Ticket office at the theatre opens one hour prior to show time.

The Driftwood Players are located at 950 Main Street in Edmonds. It is served by Community Transit routes 110, 131, 404, 416, and 870. For bus times:

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