Oceanside Theatre Company Brings a Mesmerizing Journey into Sleepy Hollow

Currently Playing Until October 29  

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The cast of Welcome to Sleepy Hollow. Photo Esteban Marin
It has been mentioned throughout the year in this blog that San Diego theatre has really stepped up the game assuming risks and bringing different types of productions to the stage. Yes, San Diego has always been a magical place for theatre but now, we are definitely seeing bolder and different things, with different casts, and different histrionic exercises that are bringing novelty and breaths of fresh air to the craft.

Oceanside Theatre Company put these histrionic exercises into practice for their latest production Welcome to Sleepy Hollow. An adaptation piece from Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with book, lyrics, and music by Heather Megill in which the company integrated students from their youth program with professional actors for the cast, amongst other story tweaks like more stage time for certain characters. A plot set in the late 1700s in a secluded New York area famous for paranormal happenings dressed with town tales. Ichabod Crane, a teacher from Connecticut comes to the town, and aside from wooing the students, he too enchants one of the older students Katrina Van Tassel but once they start to get to know each other outside of the classroom, the paranormal activities come and change their fate forever. 

Caroline Nelms and Dennis Peters. Photo Esteban Marin

The youth ensemble was a standout. Moving flawlessly onstage with energy and commitment to their roles was remarkable, adding depth and authenticity to the overall performance. It was a delight to witness promising young talents on stage such as Lorelei Krone, Sabina Kulenovic, Mia Ukegawa, and Samantha Peters playing the town's school kids as well as the creepy town ghosts. Jordyn Brown as Jonathan and also part of the ghosts was outstanding and very charming. Seeing such young talent definitely gives the rapport an "oomph", under Kandace Crystal's clean direction that pays attention to detail, bringing a very aesthetically pleasing, rounded, and pretty piece that, referencing OTC Managing Director Alex Goodman's words on the program, it does have a Disney Haunted Mansion feel for sure which adds to the charm. On the adult side of the cast, Caroline Nelms, the Woman In White is practically the audience's first impression with her spooky greeting and great vocals. Amy Hypnarowski as Katrina coming back to this piece after 22 years, impressed with her great voice and deep interpretations. Dennis Peters who we saw last as "Stevie" in Good People, gave the audience a 180 as the patient and curious Ichabod Crane. 

Continuing with the charming aspects, I have never seen a production where one person has so many roles, but it seemed to work well here, as Heather Megill also was in charge of the wardrobe design with the assistance of Courtney Park, creating stunning designs that deserve special recognition. Every costume was meticulously crafted, enhancing the visual appeal and transporting the audience to the time and place of Sleepy Hollow. The attention to detail was evident and definitely contributed to the look and feel of the production.

Amy Hypnarowski and Dennis Peters. Photo Esteban Marin

The lighting design was also noteworthy. Kevin "Blax" Burroughs did it again, skillfully creating the ideal atmosphere, immersing the audience in the haunting ambiance of Sleepy Hollow. The clever use of lighting effects heightened the dramatic moments, leaving a lasting impact. Alyssa Kane's set design included ingenious incorporation of trees that hid doors in their trunks, adding agility and practicality to the transitions as actors seamlessly entered and exited the stage.

The production as a whole was nicely executed. The attention to detail was evident, and the key aspects of the show were carefully considered. The combination of talented cast members, impeccable direction, stunning wardrobe design, and thoughtful lighting made for a special experience.

Producing these types of shows is definitely a challenging task that Oceanside Theatre Company assumed as six musicians were playing live onstage in full view being part of the scenery and sometimes interacting with the characters. Live music is something that sadly is seen less and less due to financial issues so, my recognition to OTC for executing this with such grace. 

"Welcome to Sleepy Hollow" has one more weekend and is a must-see for theater enthusiasts and anyone seeking a captivating journey into the world of mystery and enchantment. For showtimes and ticket prices please click HERE.

To listen to Kevin "Blax" Burroughs's interview on Downstage, the SD Theatre Critics podcast click here. 

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