BWW Review: SLEEPY HOLLOW at Synetic Theater

BWW Review: SLEEPY HOLLOW at Synetic Theater
Photo by Brittany DiLiberto

If you're of a certain age, your most vivid association with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow may be the 1949 animated Disney short. Picture a lanky, awkward, schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane and a burly, egotistical, bully named Brom Bones (the character that would later inspire the personality and physique of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) as they rival for the affections of the buxom, flirtatious Katrina Van Tassel. Their romantic competition takes a dark turn with the appearance of the ghostly Headless Horseman.

Like Synetic's summer 2018 production, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Sleepy Hollow draws from American literature and a variety of cinematic treatments. In typical Synetic fashion, however, the story is quite literally turned on its head. Director Paata Tsikurishvili and Adapter Nathan Weinberger have deepened and darkened the well-known plot, adding a tragic backstory for the Headless Horseman. Scenic Designer Phil Charlwood and Lighting Designer Brian S. Allard immediately pull the audience in by creating the perfect setting for this haunting tale - a setting that is both appropriately spooky and yet evokes a pervasive sadness.

As Ichabod Crane, Vato Tsikurishvili is a sneering, explosive powerhouse. His physical

Vato Tsikurushvili as Ichabod Crane
Photo by Brittany DiLiberto

size belies an astonishing elegance and flexibility, most notably during some key scenes late in the performance. His romantic rival, Brom, is ably played by Justin J. Bell and arguably the most dynamic of the characters in this adaptation. McLean Jesse turns in an admirable performance as Katrina Van Tassel, the fun-loving young woman who captures both of their hearts. Unlike previous versions of Sleepy Hollow, this triangle takes a backseat to the dark secrets lurking in Ichabod and Brom's past friendship and military service. It is in the revelation of these secrets that Jesse's Katrina comes into her own, portraying the keen anguish of betrayal.

BWW Review: SLEEPY HOLLOW at Synetic Theater
Photo by Brittany DiLiberto

Inhabiting the Headless Horseman, Scott S. Turner crafts a truly haunting spectre. As he seeks ghoulish vengeance from Ichabod, Brom, and their compatriots, Turner is at turns terrifying and yet all-too-human in his abject sorrow. That he communicates this depth of emotion without use of dialogue or facial expressions is truly outstanding. Some of the most affecting moments of the play are those between the Horseman and his trusty steed, played to balletic effect by Maryam Najafzada.

Resident Composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze appears onstage in the more classic version of the Headless Horseman. His evocative live piano performance adds an unnerving effect to the piece, but one that will be no stranger to fans of that other gothic legend, The Phantom of the Opera.

Synetic Theater's Sleepy Hollow runs through November 4 at their Crystal City theatre. Run time is 80 minutes with no intermission. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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From This Author Sarah Murphy

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