Arts & Entertainment
MBT takes a fresh look at a Halloween classic
By D. A. Blackburn
Originally printed 10/15/2009 (Issue 1742 - Between The Lines News)
It's getting to be that spooky time of year again, when candy, costumes and jack-o-lanterns start turning up around every corner.
If you're like me, and you're looking to get into the spirit without a massive sugar high, Meadow Brook Theatre's new production of the Halloween classic "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" will put a grin on your pumpkin - and it's not likely to give little goblins nightmares.
The MBT production marks the world premiere of a fresh stage adaptation of Washington Irving's novel by Jefferson Garrett. And though it remains a ghostly tale about a headless horseman and a terrified, love-struck schoolmaster, this production is pure, whimsical fun.
There are, to be sure, a few startling explosions, ominous sound (Mike Duncan) and light (Reid G. Johnson) plots and a suitably scary horseman (Rick Carver) - cleverly created as a live puppet (think "Lion King") - but Garrett's script focuses as much attention on the romance between Ichabod Crane (Rusty Mewha) and Katrina Van Tassel (Katie Hardy) as it does on the scarier elements of the story.
Direction by Travis W. Walter, likewise, keeps things light, and even delivers generous helpings of laughs. And MBT's cast is all treats and no tricks.
Mewha creates a perfectly nervous and studious Ichabod Crane, at once knowing but easily terrified. Hardy, too, is a good fit for the work, performing with poise and an air of confidence well-suited to the breeding of her character.
In smaller roles, Aaron T. Moore delivers a charmingly deceitful Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, and Ann O'Brien and Andrea Mellos make a delightfully flighty pair of Brinkerhoff sisters. And, as is often the case at MBT, the production boasts a cast of exceptionally talented youth performers.
Befitting the season, Liz Moore's costumes are an excellent touch, adding much to the 1790s setting of the work. Brian Kessler's sets, though attractive, are a bit less pleasing, as they leave a number of indoor settings feeling like they're out in the hollow, but this has little significance in a production with such broad appeal. This production is, after all, certainly no pumpkin.
'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'
Meadow Brook Theatre, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester. Wednesday-Sunday through Nov. 1. $24-$39. 248-377-3300. http://www.mbtheatre.com
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