In a state where outsiders have historically been viewed with suspicion, Weber State theater professor Jim Christian’s original musical, Sleepy Hollow, plays as a morality tale about immoral and malevolent outsiders who threaten the culture of the residents.
This version diverges from Washington Irving’s 1820 short story, where Brom “Bones” Van Brunt, the hometown tough guy, is the focus of exploration into the dark elements of human nature. Here, Christian recasts the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, as a source of evil and conflict.
The biggest strengths of the show are the sets and the actors. Multiple set changes create the spooky setting of the haunted town that fits the Halloween season. The acting is solid, and the actors have strong voices that blend together well.
Christian’s musical numbers and the role reversals of Crane and Van Brunt create a sense of wholesomeness, but the spookiness and complexity of one of this country’s most recognized tales is at times diminished. Often, the music, rather than adding to the mood and intensity, causes the show to lose momentum. Emilie Starr’s sweet and conflicted Katrina Van Tassel faces a moral dilemma regarding the love triangle, yet her musical struggle doesn’t convey the weight of the situation. During the ghost-story scene at the Van Tassel mansion, on the other hand, Kalyn West as Rosalie Brinkerhoff displays the intensity in her performance that is needed throughout the play.
Entertaining and at almost three hours in length, it is a strong college-level performance.
Sleepy Hollow @ Val A. Browning Center, 3750 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, 800-WSU-TIKS, through Nov. 7. WeberStateTickets.com.