The Hollow is filled with a story yet untold. Well, this story seems like the Washington Irving classic, but (It is advertised as a reinterpretation) at times it becomes confusing. You see, we all should know or at least have heard about the short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, and the idea of watching the show written through the eyes of Katrina Van Tassel (or at least her point of view) is a very intriguing idea. I guess my confusion was that the show was only partially portrayed from this character. I was almost convinced the play was from Henriette Van Brunt’s point of view, or was it through Pieter Claassen’s point of view? I wanted this story, written by Hunter Foster, no matter how wonderfully told and sung by this fabulous cast, to be one character’s main focal view. I would’ve liked to have seen more of how each of these characters felt and interacted with Katrina. I guess, and this could be read as a good thing, I wanted to see more. And hopefully they will consider this for future productions.
Katrina Van Tasse is brilliantly sung and played by Whitney Bashor. Her presence is captivating. Her character’s love for Ichabod Crane and her yearning for the outside world is undeniably real, tender and passionate. Her singing voice is spellbinding (No, she wasn’t casting any spells). Whitney is quite simply, perfect for this role.
As is usually the case in any role Sam Ludwig portrays, his Ichabod Crane was equal to the task. Sam’s Ichabod struggled to understand the people of Tarry Town with a youthful zeal and jest for life and imagination. His beautiful voice coupled with his characters inner secrets and turmoil is as great as any you will see anywhere.
Noah Chiet plays Peiter Claassen with a youthful spirit and gives us a gleam of imaginative innocence. Very well done! Sherri L. Edelen plays the forceful pious Henriette Van Brunt with an unwavering spirit. There are a few moments of a kind and loving motherly persona that seems a little out of place for me.
The opening number “Legend,” sung by James Gardiner and the Company, sets the tone for the entire show.It was excellently performed and portrayed. It made me want to see more of Gardiner’s character – Constable Voss – throughout the show. Evan Casey, Russell Sunday, Thomas Adrian Simpson and Harry A. Winter give you strong, forceful and endearing portrayals in this story of the Headless Horseman, as do Anika Larsen, Tracy Lynn Olivera and Margo Seibert who also complete the strong vocals and performances required in The Hollow.
Matt Conner, who wrote the Music and Lyrics, has composed some very haunting numbers as well as a wonderful ballad, “Boston.” His collaborative efforts with Director Matthew Gardiner and the rest of the design team fulfills this haunting story of love, fear and the unknown. Mr. Gardiner uses the back passageways a number of times. He has actors crossing the stage, from left to right, but it is unclear as to why or where. But his direction of the acting is superb with each actor reaching out and achieving all the nuanced moments given them.
Michael Morris (Orchestrations) along with Gabriel Mangiante (Musical Director), Derek McLane (Scenic Design), Kathleen Geldard (Costume Design), Chris Lee (Lighting Design) and Matt Rowe (Sound Design) are all up to par with their brilliant work. I especially liked the lighting and sound design. They were GREAT! You’ll be able to hear and see the horseman frighteningly with ease. My play-date, more than once, almost jumped out of her seat. I did have once concern: the night I saw the show Sam Ludwig’s pony tail was coming ‘unweaved’ and I’m sure by now this hair-raising problem has been fixed.
I recommend this new musical for the performances alone. The short story, if you’ve read it, may leave you a little hollow, but the songs and acting will thrill you to the core.
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
The Hollow Plays through October 16th at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call their box office (703) 820-9771, or purchase tickets online.
Read Joel Markowitz’s interviews with Hunter Foster and Matt Conner.