By Juliana Vandermark
“Somewhere around Tarry Town…” Three days later and this adage still rings in my ears, in a way that all great reprises in all great musicals should. Thursday, October 6 was opening night of Falls Church City’s Creative Cauldron’s “Ichabod: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Written by Stephen Gregory Smith and music by Matt Conner, the musical takes The Legend of Sleepy Hollow closer to the original gothic horror story by great American writer, Washington Irving.
For my first ever Creative Cauldron production, I didn’t know quite what to expect, but the second I saw the elegant and eerie wooden set laden with flickering lanterns, I knew the musical wouldn’t disappoint. As a lover of ghost stories and sitting on the edge of my seat, this production carried me and the rest of its captive audience to the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town where the play takes place.
The play follows a small town and its schoolhouse as new schoolmaster Ichabod Crane moves in. Upon arrival he catches the eye of young Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of the well-esteemed Baltus Van Tassel. Ichabod enthralls Katrina with the magic of a world beyond Tarry Town, of Boston where he is from and the two find more and more excuses to be in one another’s presence. Upset by this apparent new development in her daughter’s life, Katrina’s mother urges the town drunk, Brom Bones Van Brunt, to ask for her hand in marriage. Simultaneously there’s another thread of a tale of The Headless Horseman that excites the reader with hints towards a spooky understory to the otherwise-quaint and happy town.
Over the course of the play this showdown between Brom Bones and Ichabod and the retellings of this mysterious tale become more and more intensified until suddenly, one night, the two converge in a mysterious and abrupt end to each saga. The characters are left with several possible explanations, and the audience is left with the same excited unknown, leaving the story open in the most satisfying of ways.
The performance of Colum Goebelbecker as Ichabod was particularly enthralling. His character was incredibly multifaceted and real as he dealt with the challenges of love, poverty and the two coalescing in a genuine way. Goebelbecker took the audience with him through his frustrations and yearning for love and prosperity in a way that was amplified by his euphonious voice.
Brooke Bloomquist’s performance as Katrina is also worth noting as it was her longing looks and internal monologues that added a passionate and emotional layer to the story and gained the audience’s compassion and intrigue over what comes next.
I found myself at times wishing to see the Headless Horseman, frustrated that he was only whispered around lamplight by other on-stage characters. By the production’s finale however, it was just this unspoken magic about him that I appreciated most. Conner made me afraid of someone, something I never even saw. With just his words and songs I had such a visceral feeling of this headless horseman and what he represented to the townspeople that I didn’t want anything different.
Resident Scenic and Costume Designer Margie Jervis’ set and costumes too made the play, and the actors bridge their world with ours as the audience. The vibrant black and white costumes heightened the sense of eeriness throughout the play and the lights to represent narration and reflection versus reality added another layer of care and engagement.
This musical takes a classic tale and brings it alive with a cliffhanger ending, incredible character and story building, and beautiful music. I encourage anyone who has a love for love, mystery and fall to join Creative Cauldron “somewhere around Tarry Town” before it’s too late.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased ahead of time at www.creativecauldron.org or by calling 703-436-9948. Shows take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday — Saturday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. This show is running now through October 30, 2022. Masks are required for all patrons at all times.