When I heard about the newest National Youth Musical Theatre production of a brand new musical based on the well known short story Sleepy Hollow, I knew I had to check it out. As a fan of the horror genre as well as musicals, it seemed like the perfect combination.
This brand new musical was written by Eamonn O’Dwyer and Helen Watts, commissioned by the NYMT, and staged at The Other Palace.
The familiar story of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman is retold with a very different focus this time. While all the known elements are there, this musical unfolds more like a love story and much less rooted in the horror genre. The eerie undertones are definitely still there and very well done, if a little too subtle at times, but the main course of the musical is the socio political developments in the small town of Sleepy Hollow.
Ichabod Crane moves to the town to become the new teacher, introducing the children to modern science, which angers and scares the deeply religious parents. At the same time, social standing and the very future of the families in the community are at stake, as land owners and their tennants disagree on rights and development plans.
Katrina Van Fleet is made the absolute central figure with lots of agency, not just a trophy for Ichabod to win, which is a brilliant spin and adds much more depth to the story.
While there are definitely creepy moments, it is not a scary production, and that’s a great thing as it enables the musical to explore the story of Sleepy Hollow from a very different angle.
Stunning performances from young actors, a beautifully eerie score, and an interesting storyline make this new musical an absolute hit. I’m glad I got to see it during its very short run. Five out of six rainbow sloths from me!