CenterPoint's 'Sleepy Hollow' intrigues

By Blair Howell

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 22 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

Cast members of "Sleepy Hollow," CenterPoint Legacy Theatre's production at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts through Nov. 12.

Ron Russell

CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s “Sleepy Hollow”; Davis Center for the Performing Arts, 525 North 400 West, Centerville, Utah; through Nov. 12; 801-298-1302 or CenterPointTheatre.com

CENTERVILLE — “Sleepy Hollow,” an award-winning musical that originated at Weber State’s theater arts program, receives a truly handsome staging by CenterPoint Theatre.

Beautifully sung ballads and a marvelous performance by the lead actor are the hallmarks of this presentation, the show’s first by non-student actors. The book writer and lyricist, WSU’s Jim Christian, also helms the production and shows strong directorial skills and a precise attention to detail.

As the arrogant Ichabod Crane, the town’s new schoolmaster, Daniel Fredrickson shows exquisite acting skills. He performs with humor, courage and gusto. Riding crop in hand that he strikes at will, Fredrickson leads the schoolchildren in “Never Spare the Rod,” the show’s strongest song. As a singer, he takes command of “Ichabod Redux.”

As in the Washington Irving short story on which Christian based the script, Ichabod competes with Brom Van Brown (performed nicely by Brett Bradford) for the affection of Katrina Van Tassel (Angie Winegar). The show’s signature song, “Beyond the Hollow,” a beautiful solo to showcase Winegar’s notable vocal skills, is a beautiful song by Christian and composer Tom Edward Clark.

In “Beyond the Hollow,” Katrina struggles with helping the town at the sacrifice of her own happiness. The ensemble’s “Unraveling” and “Make It Mine” are fine additional compositions by the show’s creators.

The songs are a refreshing-to-hear blend of operetta flourishes and traditional musical theater to make “Sleepy Hollow” an intriguing show. Ensemble members have solos or a choral work to shine and the newly recorded orchestrations are lush and full.

Under musical direction by Julie Waite, Jan Smith as Gusta Tenbrook and Andrea Wood as Sabine Vedder impress with their ballads. A young performer, Tiffani Allen is also a standout as Mina Van Ripper.

The folk dancing in “Halloween Dance” and the “Midnight Chase” ballet show the director’s sturdy abilities with choreography.

It is the storytelling where the show is at its weakest. The audience understands that a witch has cursed the hamlet, and Sleepy Hollow is haunted by supernatural ghosts who have killed a few villagers. But less clear are the details of how the curse is reversed. A story synopsis and defining the location of each scene is missing from the program and would have aided theatergoers.

Costuming by Katrina Dansfield and set design by Austin Hull is noteworthy for its professional quality. The same is true of David Powell’s design of the horse heads, which were constructed by Kurt Argle.

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