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REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

Greater Boston Stage Company Presents the World Premiere, Adapted from the story by Washington Irving

REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

Two hundred years after Washington Irving introduced the little hamlet of Sleepy Hollow and its superstitious denizens to the canon of American literature, the legend remains among the most enduring of stories that capture the imagination of adults and children alike, inspire questions about the supernatural realm, and scare the bejesus out of its audience.

The colorful animated version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is vividly imprinted on my brain from childhood and I can easily conjure up the vision of the ominous, terrifying Headless Horseman pursuing gangly Ichabod Crane and his equally spindly horse through the dark woods in the middle of the night. But move over, cartoon H. H. and Ichabod, as you have been dislodged by the startlingly effective physical manifestation of your characters by Paul Melendy in the Greater Boston Stage Company World Premiere of John Minigan's adaptation of Irving's story.

In addition to playing all of the roles - men, women, children, and a ghoul - Melendy serves as the narrator, a fictional character known as Diederich Knickerbocker, routinely breaking through the fourth wall to engage with the audience. He easily glides between framing the story and acting out the scenes of Schoolmaster Crane's quotidian habits. His life consists of trying to impart education to unruly students, seeking ways to augment his paltry income, and maneuvering to win the hand of the wealthy and winsome Katrina Van Tassel, even in the face of competition from town bully Brom Bones. Each character is discernible by a shift in Melendy's posture, a modulation of voice, or an altered facial expression. He is even able to breathe life into the wooden sawhorse that stands in as his swaybacked steed Gunpowder.

Although TLOSH has a high spookiness quotient, successfully rendered by the combined talents of designers Kathy Monthei (scenic), Corey Whittemore (lighting), David Remedios (sound), and Deirdre McCabe Gerrard (costume), it also has an abundance of silliness and humor of the human foibles variety. Crane's oversized ego has a way of landing him in awkward situations and Melendy excels at awkward. Whether it is the bizarre unfolding of his limbs as he sashays about as Ichabod, or the pratfalls when he attempts to mount his "horse," he converts clumsiness into an art form.

A veteran of previous productions at GBSC, Melendy approached Minigan with the suggestion to adapt the story and Director Weylin Symes was happy to find a project to stage for the Halloween season. The one detail that Melendy hadn't counted on was the solo treatment of the material, but his performance betrays no signs of trepidation. Sometimes you don't know what you can do until you do it. With The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Paul Melendy adds a feather to his tri-cornered hat.

Photo credit: Nile Scott Studios (Paul Melendy)

Greater Boston Stage Company presents the World Premiere of THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

Adapted from the story by Washington Irving by John Minigan, Directed by Weylin Symes, Starring Paul Melendy

Production Stage Manager, Shauwna Dias Grillo; Assistant Stage Manager, Emily Fitzgerald; Substitute Assistant Stage Manager, Autumn Blazon-Brown; Scenic Designer, Kathy Monthei; Scenic Builder, New England Scenic, LLC; Scenic Charge, Kate Bell; Lighting Designer, Corey Whittemore; Costume Designer, Deirdre Mccabe Gerrard; Sound Designer, David Remedios; Properties Master, Sarajane Morse Mullins; Master Electrician, Lawrence Ware; Production Manager, Casey Leone Blackbird

Performances through November 6 at Greater Boston Stage Company, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA; Box Office 781-279-2200 or www.greaterbostonstage.org



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