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The legend of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ lives on at Savannah Ballet Theater

The theater’s 20th season opens with a new take on a classic tale

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TO CELEBRATE the milestone of 20 seasons, the Savannah Ballet Theater is pulling out all the stops. The local dance institution is set to tackle Washington Irving’s classic Sleepy Hollow on October 13 at the Trustees Theater, but with a fresh and original interpretation. Director Abby McCuen says that SBT's version of Sleepy Hollow is an engaging and thought-provoking experience for the audience.

“I was drawn to it because as an audience member, you get to pick the ending. It’s really up to you what happens. I think in today’s world, where everything is in your face and everything is laid out for you, it kind of gives everybody a chance to make their own decision,” she says.

“Growing up, I always liked those books where you’d turn to a certain page and it’d go one way and if you turned to a different page it’d go another way. So this is kind of like that. I think our version follows the storyline to a t. We went by the book, but we put in really fun music and dramatic music that helps set the scene.”

The music is a major part of the production, with McCuen serving as music supervisor and picking unique pieces that compliment the performances and the story.

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“I chose from a few composers,” she says. “I primarily chose work from Marco Beltrami because it set the tone for what we wanted. We also went with Thomas Newman, who did the American Beauty soundtrack. I picked those because I love movie soundtracks. You can kind of mix and match and really pick how you want the scene to feel.

Another big factor in what makes SBT’s performances, and Sleepy Hollow in particular, so compelling is their use of lighting and projections to compliment the dances and the stories they’re telling.

“Our professional dancers are very proficient. We have 13 professional dancers from all over the United States, and one from Canada. They’re all unbelievably talented. So we have that aspect of it,” she explains. “But you set the bar even higher when you have these really cool technical aspects. We bring in a projection designer from Atlanta, and he designs all these projects just for Savannah Ballet Theater. They move and flicker, and you feel as an audience member that you’re a part of the scene.”

The evening won’t just be a showcase for SBT’s version of Sleepy Hollow, however. The theater is also staging what they’re calling their Spooktacular following the one-act Sleepy Hollow. The Spooktacular features a tribute performance to The Doors and a special surprise finale that McCuen says is “really phenomenal.”

The event will also feature a costume contest during intermission, where the winner can get tickets to upcoming performances and other prizes.

“This is a really fun show, probably the most fun show we’ll do this year,” she says.

The theater is currently celebrating their 20th season, and has become known for its version of The Nutcracker. After becoming a professional company in 2012, they began adding additional performances and will be taking on both Sleepy Hollow and The Wizard Of Oz this season. They’re also looking towards the future, and have big plans past the 20-year milestone.

“We want to do ballets that everyone can enjoy. There are all these amazing ballets that have been performed, but we want to reach a broader audience. I think that’s our biggest goal as an organization. The word ‘all’ is ballet, so we want everyone to enjoy it.”

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