Simply a ‘Legend’ : ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is a treat from imagination station.


Departing from its usual quirky, comic fairy-tale style, the imagination station, a children’s theater company, proves that it has the chops to hold a young audience without lots of giggles and sight gags, as enjoyable as they usually are.

Its well-acted, no-frills version of Washington Irving’s spooky classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” celebrating the rich, evocative language of the tale, is a treat to watch.

That’s not to say that there aren’t giggly moments. The show’s humorous opening has the cast (Jennifer Brandt, Jake Eberle, Shari Getz and Jon Reed) playing themselves--on stage in rehearsal clothes, with a rack of costumes and a table full of munchies, deciding, after some discussion and a few playfully ghostly suggestions, to do “Sleepy Hollow.”


Deciding who should play what is the next step, and as descriptions of the characters are read, the actors choose costumes and fall into their parts with comic reservations or, in Reed’s case--he’s an unlikely choice for the “Herculean” Brom Bones--comic gusto.

The play itself, however, although affected somewhat by a few lighting snafus, relies on Irving’s words and the cast’s gimmick-free, nicely timed performances to entertain. Eberle shines as the gluttonous, opportunistic Ichabod, and his mimed, elbow-flapping horseback ride, on treacherous Gunpowder, is a high point.

The only disappointment was the headless horseman’s brief appearance--a pumpkin head that wasn’t well lighted and was too obscured to provide even the mildest of chills.

* “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, Saturdays, 10 a.m. and noon; Sundays, 11:30 a.m. through Nov. 9. $5-$7. (310) 828-7519.

Music, Maestro, Please: Stage and screen actor John Rubinstein will host the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 1997-98 “Toyota Symphonies for Youth” series, which begins Nov. 8 at the Music Center Pavilion with “Your Very Own Concert,” conducted by Sir Roger Norrington. Featured on the program will be Berlioz’s Overture, “Le Corsaire,” Emanuel Ax performing the Liszt-Shubert pieces for solo piano and Smetana’s “The Moldau.”

Pre-concert activities include arts projects, a meeting with musicians and a chance to try out musical instruments.

The series continues with “A Winter’s Celebration” (Dec. 13), with music of the season conducted by Grant Gershon and featuring violinist Lyndon Johnston Taylor and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus; “The Oboe in Old Vienna” (Jan. 24), conducted by Franz Welser-Most; and “Peter and the Wolf” (Feb. 14), with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Rubinstein as narrator.

It concludes with “El Salonen Mexico!” (March 28), with Esa-Pekka Salonen.

* “Toyota Symphonies for Youth: Your Very Own Concert,” Music Center Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., first program, Nov. 8, 11 a.m.; pre-concert activities, 10 a.m. $6-$10. (213) 850-2000 or Ticketmaster.

The Art of the Tale: Performance and storytelling are on tap as UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum kicks off its fall season of free “Children for Children” and “Draw Me a Story” programs Saturday.

The series opens with “Dia de los Muertos: Sounds From Ancient Mexico, an Interactive Performance,” with musician Martin Espino, and “The Dancing Skeleton and Other Cuentos” with storyteller Sylvia Velasquez Lawrence.

Aimed at ages 4 to 10, the programs and the cultural focus change weekly and include Korean and African music, dance and tales. There will also be celebrations of the American West and the Kwanzaa and Hanukkah holidays.

* “Children for Children,” Saturdays, 11 a.m.; “Draw Me a Story,” Saturdays, noon, UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., West L.A., (310) 443-7000. Free.