Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, NYMT at The Other Palace

The National Youth Music Theatre do a mighty fine job of eerily atmospheric new musical The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at The Other Palace

“Mr Crane says…”

Everyone loves a good horror story right? Which is partly why folktale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has endured so long, haunting us in various iterations since Washington Irving first published it in 1820. And it has now been turned into a new musical by Helen Watts (book) and Eamonn O’Dwyer (music & lyrics) at the behest of the National Youth Music Theatre, who are performing it for a short run as part of their residency at The Other Palace.

In the New England town of Sleepy Hollow, myths and mysteries abound but the arrival of a new schoolteacher in 1833 takes an even stranger turn. Ichabod Crane is like a breath of cold fresh air, not necessarily fully appreciated by everyone as he sets about dragging the local schoolkids into the Enlightenment single-handedly, disrupting the social order with notions of land ownership, and flirting with engaged women. But not even his rational mind is fully prepared for the eerie strangeness that follows. Continue reading “Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, NYMT at The Other Palace”

Review: The Hired Man, NYMT at St James Theatre

“What would you say to your son?”

Howard Goodall’s The Hired Man probably has to be one of my favourite musicals, British or otherwise, so going to see any production of it is something of a no-brainer, especially in a year that marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War that plays such a strong part here. But performed by the National Youth Music Theatre of Great Britain, this one has the added bonus of featuring people who we are bound to be seeing on our stages for years to come, emerging as an astonishingly accomplished piece of work, not least in the lead performances of Amara Okereke and Dominic Harrison.
 

Bolstering the sterling efforts of the cast though is some superb creative work under Nikolai Foster’s hands. Matthew Wright’s design really opens up the stage most effectively, allowing for his beautiful set to evoke the unforgiving terrain of the turn-of-the-century English countryside; Nick Winston’s choreography reflects a similar muscularity that felt utterly true; and Sarah Travis’ musical direction is just inspired, marshalling the voices of her 30+-strong company to spine-tingling effect and also employing actor-musicianship to add real texture to the music. Continue reading “Review: The Hired Man, NYMT at St James Theatre”