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Returning to Sleepy Hollow

I seem to be getting into a horror/Jeremy Jordan pattern whenever I post on here now…

Because guess what? I found another project he was involved in, and it’s a creepy story again! It’s a musical theatre album called Tarrytown by Adam Wachter.

Source: Amazon

I’m especially interested in this album, not just because he’s in it, but because it’s a contemporary twist on the story of Ichabod Crane and the legend of Sleepy Hollow! It’s really interesting!

Now, it’s been some time since I first read the original story by Washington Irving. I had to pick it up for one of my classes a couple years ago, and honestly I only remembered the ending before I decided to pick it up again after finishing the album.

So, I reread it in order to write this post. And good Lord is it a messed-up story! I’m going to try to balance talking about both iterations of the narrative (Irving’s and this contemporary retelling) for this post.

Let’s do it!

Source: Amazon

Irving’s Narrative

Let’s start with the original source.

In Irving’s story, the main protagonist Ichabod Crane has come to Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow to work as a teacher and has fallen in love with Katrina Van Tassel, a local resident.

However, another person he meets there, Brom Bones, is also competing for Katrina’s hand and will do anything to get Ichabod out of the way.

Unlike Ichabod, Brom is the stereotypically-masculine jock type, and his treatment of Ichabod is terrible!

In the original source, the end to Ichabod’s story is tragic, and left me feeling really bad for him because of the situation he got involved in. It was unfortunate that it turned out the way it did for him.

Characters

(Note: The names after each character name are the actors that played them on the Tarrytown album).

Andy Mientus as Ichabod Crane
Source: Playbill

Ichabod Crane (Andy Mientus)

In both versions, of the story, Ichabod Crane had me feeling for him. He didn’t deserve the way he was treated in both iterations, and seeing him get in over his head in both stories was tragic.

It didn’t matter what story I was consuming, Irving’s or Wachter’s, all I wanted was to hug this poor guy. He’s just in love, and he gets punished for it in both versions because of the individual circumstances that show up in each story.

Brom Bones (Jeremy Jordan)

Jeremy Jordan as Brom
Source: The Shubert Organization

If I haven’t made it clear enough already, I hate this guy in both versions of this story. He’s so determined to be with Katrina in both stories that he has no problem destroying another life!

Not to mention, in the musical, the life he is destroying is the one of the man who is head over heels in love with him! It’s disgusting!

In the short story, we don’t see him ever interact with Ichabod personally, but we know he’s romantically interested in Katrina. He’s at the party where Ichabod is rejected and he sees Ichabod leave the building that night. And that, personally, infuriated me because I knew exactly what he was going to do once Ichabod was gone!

Katrina (Krysta Rodriguez)

Krysta Rodriguez as Katrina
Source: Wikipedia

Now, Katrina in the short story isn’t much better than Brom, I think. I understand not reciprocating romantic feelings for someone but, considering Ichabod’s reaction, I felt she was harsh with him.

In the musical, she’s really more a victim of her spouse’s actions as much as Ichabod is. Seeing her want to be resolute in leaving Brom, but the circumstances with Ichabod making that difficult, I felt bad for her, too.

Commentary

So, honestly, the first thing I got from the end of the original story is that poor Ichabod had been dealing with two garbage people in Katrina and Brom, and I just felt bad for him.

That really stuck out to me with the original text, and it made the ending of the story really powerful for me.

I will say, and this is kind of to the original story’s detriment, Irving went a little overboard with the description of the party where Ichabod was rejected by Katrina.

I had to read it a few times to make sure I wasn’t getting lost. This may have been because Irving goes into such incredible detail about the most minute things about the party.

I mean, I get it. When building the scene, description is necessary for that. That said, I think he overdid it when writing about the party.

It bothered me that I kept getting lost in that description. The other scenes before it were pretty straightforward and easy to get behind.

Maybe the description of the party is an intentional distraction to keep the reader from putting two and two together about the ending, but I can’t be sure, so it was a little bit of a struggle.

Anyway, I think I’ve covered everything about the original text. Let’s move on.

Adam Wachter’s Tarrytown

Source: Amazon

I will say, I had to pull up the plot summary of this musical and read it a couple of times when I was listening to this album, and it really helped me put two and two together about the basic storyline.

What I was able to get from the album without that summary and that were new to the story was that:

A. Ichabod’s gay in this version.

B. Brom and Katrina are actually married in this version, but their marriage is really not good. They’re both struggling with feelings of discontent.

C. Ichabod’s love for Katrina in the original text becomes his love for Brom because of the change to him being gay.

D. The story is modernized, with multiple present-day businesses and stores, and activities such as watching television, being mentioned in songs to paint a picture of our contemporary world.

Everything else is largely the same as the original text. Ichabod’s love for Brom turns out to be tragic, just as his love for Katrina was tragic in the original text, and it’s interesting to see the contrasts between the two works!

Commentary

I really felt for Ichabod in this version, and when I first listened to this album, I wasn’t sure about Brom’s motivations (largely because I’d forgotten that he was a piece of shit in the original text – like I said, I reread the short story after finishing the album).

Anyway, when it finally connected for me, I realized that Ichabod ended up in a struggle for the object of his affections, which is pretty much what happened to him in Irving’s text.

All Wachter really did was modernize the original story, flip the romance angle a bit, and set it to music. And, personally, I find it all fascinating! The music is great, and the story is really easy to get sucked into!

Like I did for my In the Light review, I want to give mention to a few of my favorite tracks from this album.

“Tarrytown” is a great opener, although I don’t like that it credits all three singers on the album when it’s just Ichabod doing the singing. It makes it a little confusing, because I kept expecting Jeremy Jordan and Krysta Rodriguez to come in, and they didn’t… at least not in the main chorus. I mean, Krysta Rodriguez may have been doing the “La la las” in there, and it’s possible Jeremy Jordan was harmonizing with her during that, but I’m not sure.

“My New Gay Best Friend” is another good one. It shows that Katrina is fully willing to get to know Ichabod and welcome him to Tarrytown, and it shows that Ichabod is also happy about it, too!

“Four Downs to the Ten-Yard Line” is a perfect introduction to Brom as the overly masculine character he is, and I love it! I also really like that it’s the moment when Ichabod realizes he’s in love with him. It perfectly shows how this character is just going to completely turn Ichabod’s life upside down.

“Back Home” is very pretty, as Ichabod reminisces about New York City to Katrina and Brom and talks about what he misses about the place. It really gets into what came before, and I love that, because we don’t get that backstory in the original narrative at all.

“History” was the first song I listened to from this album on Spotify, and I have to give it credit because it’s what got me into this musical in the first place! I love that it shows that Brom is using his career as a history professor to run away from the problems of his marriage, and it’s nice to see him admit that to himself, along with the beginnings of his jealousy of Ichabod.

“Down the Stairs” shocked me because, while I knew there were problems in their marriage, I didn’t expect Katrina to actually make the move she did, so to see her admit her true feelings and try to change the situation got to me in a way I didn’t expect.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is my favorite song on the entire album! You could tell Brom enjoyed scaring the living daylights out of Ichabod with his story of the undead Hessian soldier, and it was fun listening to him just revel in the horror of it all and how it would impact poor Ichabod!

“When You’re Near” is beautiful, as Ichabod finally admits to Brom how he really feels about him. It’s also great in that it shows how the romance is completely one-sided, as we don’t hear Brom say anything at all. While the plot synopsis says that they do kiss at this point, I don’t trust it. We should hear from Brom…

“Ichabod” tore my heart into pieces and then spat on those pieces! The music is so beautiful in the beginning, but it keeps a creepy undertone as Ichabod waits for Brom on the bridge. I won’t say anything else plot-related to avoid spoiling the ending, but I will say that my reaction to this song will stay with me for a long time. It was very powerful!

Finally, “Another Halloween” is a perfect ending that illustrates exactly where the characters are. It got me feeling bad about the entire situation. Anyway, I don’t want to say much beyond that. I will just admit that it got me thinking about the original story and how we didn’t see what happened to Katrina after everything, and I think this was Wachter trying to show what Irving couldn’t.

Conclusion

Going back into this story, both with Irving’s original text and Tarrytown, was a lot of fun for me, and I enjoyed every second of both iterations of the story!

I’d forgotten how messed-up the original story was, and I think it’ll definitely stick with me now. Irving had a seriously crazy idea that worked wonderfully in creating an impactful narrative!

Tarrytown had beautiful music and – like the original source – an enthralling story that grabbed me and refused to let me go until the end!

I would honestly recommend both stories. They’re fantastic! Just read the original text first before listening to the musical. I promise, they both have incredible power to grab you, and they’ll refuse to let you go until the end!

By Amber Rizzi

I am a literature geek working toward my Bachelor's in English with a concentration in writing. I love to read, and I'm always itching to write, especially creatively. I started "The Writer's Library" about three years ago, previously working with a Blogger platform before moving over to Wordpress. While I mainly post reviews of books, occasionally I will go ahead and review works in other media forms as well, such as music and certain television shows. No matter what I'm doing on here, I love to share with anyone who is willing to listen, and I'm excited to finally be on Wordpress!