Hollywood Soapbox Review of The Legend Cirque

We’re excited to share the Hollywood Soapbox review of “The Legend Cirque”! The reviewer goes into the history of Sleepy Hollow’s spooky Halloween season, setting the stage for his review. Then he describes some of the aerial, acrobatic and juggling on show. He also offers feedback about our switch from the hologram version of Washington Irving to the live actor version (played by Bjorn Olsson). Take a look to see what Hollywood Soapbox thinks of the show!

See the original review here.


the legend cirque review

REVIEW: The Legend Cirque returns, this time with Washington Irving in person

Photo: The Legend Cirque stars Justin Durham as Ichabod Crane. Photo courtesy of Margaret Fox / Provided by Westchester Circus Arts with permission.

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. — The haunted happenings of Sleepy Hollow, New York, are beginning to rival that witchy town along the coast of Massachusetts. Together with neighboring Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow is one of the undisputed Halloween capitals of the world, and this riverside nook loves to lean into the spooky shenanigans of scary season. Restaurants fill up with hungry patrons. Local watering holes gather crowds around the pumpkin-spiced beer. Festivals, parades, ghost tours and terrifying attractions pop up on every corner and along every sidewalk.

But one man rules over everything, and that’s the writer Washington Irving, whose short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, gave this village its ghoulish credibility in the first place. And among the many seasonal offerings in Sleepy Hollow is an artistic interpretation of that short story called The Legend Cirque, which features breathtaking aerial acts from the skilled performers at Westchester Circus Arts (WCS).

The show, which is co-produced by WCS and the Village of Sleepy Hollow, takes place in a tent near the churning waters of the Hudson River. Patrons take a seat around the open space and watch — no doubt with mesmerizing eyes — as Irving’s vision comes to life both in front of them and above them. This is not a strict adaptation of the original tale. Yes, each of the iconic characters is present and accounted for, including Ichabod Crane (Justin Durham), Katrina Van Tassel (Zoë Isadora), Brom Bones (Mickey Lonsdale) and the Dark Spirit / Headless Horseman (Doug Stewart), but the plot never gets too complicated or takes away from the acrobatic feats that come to life under the circus tent.

The aerial work is exquisite, with much credit to aerial operator Jeremy Cifonie, who doubles as a tavern patron. The actors swing with elegant ease around the circus tent, embodying a flurry of characteristics and moods, from evil to romantic, and everything in between. There’s also fun and spirited work on the ground, with some juggling, barrel rolling and feats of strength. Taken together, these circus acts breathe new life into the 200-year-old story.

Also aiding the narrative is Irving himself. Last year’s inaugural production of The Legend Cirque featured a hologram video of Irving, but this year the famed author makes an appearance in the flesh and blood, thanks to the addition of Bjorn Olsson. Having an actor play the part of the narrator is an upgrade over last year’s technological turn; this time around, it feels like Irving has asked the audience to pull up a chair to a fireside chat, and that intimacy can only be achieved by a live performer.

The Legend Cirque, which continues for the next month on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, is a wonderful addition to the Sleepy Hollow calendar. There are other adaptations of the original text in this corner of the Hudson Valley, including Jonathan Kruk’s faithful adaptation courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley, proving that there’s plenty of literary scariness to go around during September and October. This particular circus show, which runs 85 minutes with intermission, lets the emotions of the short story travel around the circus tent like an unleashed ghost. Audience members sit amazed at what the hard-working cast members are able to achieve, and they marvel at the frightening story that comes to life in this Halloween capital of the world.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

The Legend Cirque continues through Oct. 29 in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Click here for more information and tickets.

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