Just in time for Halloween, the West Virginia University Division of Theatre and Dance will presentThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow,a faithful and fun retelling of the classic Washington Irving story about a schoolteacher who attempts to woo a local beauty and finds himself hunted by the Headless Horseman.
This adaptation by Christopher Cartmill is appropriate for young audiences, as well as the entire family, said guest director Tom OConnor.
The story takes place around 1790 in Sleepy Hollow, a secluded settlement in Tarry Town, N.Y. The lanky and extremely superstitious schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, who came to Sleepy Hollow from Connecticut, competes with AbrahamBrom BonesVan Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a wealthy farmer.
As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel home on a creepy autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian soldier who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during some nameless battle of the Revolutionary War. According to town lore, the ghost rides forth to the scene of the battle nightly in quest of his head.
Cartmill has also published the gothic comedyThe Spectre Bridegroom.This play,The Legend of Sleepy Hollowand a third piece about Rip Van Winkle make up a suite of adaptations that he is developing of Washington Irvings works.
He has left a lot of the original story intact,OConnor said of Cartmills version ofSleepy Hollow.He has taken the text of the short story and assigned the narrative to specific townspeople. So there are 17 different narrators competing to tell their version of the story. In doing this, he has wrested the telling of the story away from the narrator and given it to the townspeople.
OConnor is a former member of the WVU theatre and dance faculty and now lives in Massachusetts. Many people will remember his past work at WVU , especially his adaptation of Franz Kafkas classic storyThe Metamorphosisin 1999.
In this play, as in �€~The Metamorphosis,we dont explain everything,OConnor said.It is up to the audience members to bring their own understanding to it. People who are older, or who have read the story, will bring their own world view.
I hope people will enjoy it,he added.It has a lot of physicality in it, a lot that is playful, and it will hold a different appeal for everyone. Its definitely a show that children and their parents can enjoy together. Its a fun family show for Halloween and for harvest time.
Costume design professor Mary McClung has created unique and inventive costumes for this play, and scene designer Sabrina Hykes, a graduate student in the Division of Theatre and Dance , has chosen to present it on a spare, monochromatic set, garnished by dozens of bright pumpkins and gourds.
The costumes are really great,OConnor said.They are stylistically close to the period in which the story takes place, but Mary also used materials that suggest otherworldly qualities. So that raises the question: Who are these people? Are they here now? Are they ghosts from the past?
The scene design is both functional and sculpturally beautiful,OConnor added.Because there is not a lot of embellishment, it allows us to imagine several different locales. And even the pumpkins get to play a role in the choreography.
All of the costume, scenes and property imaginings are brought to life through lighting created by graduate studentKaren Muller to shape whats on the stage.
Technical director is assistant professor Daniel S. Wilson . Other designers include Ben Jones, sound, and Andrew Moeggenborg, props.
The cast includes the following WVU theater students: Nick Yurickas Ichabod Crane; Aileen Targett as Katrina Van Tassel; Brian Edelman as Brom Van Brunt; Kyle Hayes as Burgher Blander; Taylor Ferreraas Dame Vanderdonck, the housewife; Lindsay Dilworth as Heer Kessing, the smithy; Mike Baker as Herr Van Wart, the innkeeper; Ben Levesque as Whitzit Acker, the hunter; Jessika Goldstein as Dame Paterson, the farmers wife; Dan Evans as Heer Bommell, the carpenter; Brittany Sowardsas Dame Van Wart, the seamstress; Melissa Allen as Little Miss Vanderdonck; Matt Websteras Master Augustus Twiller; Ashley Shade as Miss Augusta Twiller; Tracy Toman as Balthus Van Tassel; Matt Link as Dame Van Tassel; and Jesse Dilworth as the widow Van Schainck.
Musicians are Will Oxley and Stephen Cotter, and stage manager is Hannah Chuby. Choreography is by Kara Haas and members of the ensemble. Haas, an alumna of the Division of Theatre and Dance, also served in a number of supporting capacities, including dance captain for many of the movement sequences.
OConnor is a physical theater artist who has worked as a professional actor, director and choreographer for works in theater, dance and opera.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollowis the third main stage show he has directed for WVU . In addition toThe Metamorphosis,he also directedBat Boy: The Musicalin spring 2006.
OConnor would not reveal whether the ghost of the Headless Horseman will appear on stage, saying only,Were still waiting to hear back from his agent.So bring your family to see if the Headless Horseman rides again at the CAC .
Tickets forThe Legend of Sleepy Holloware $15 general admission, $12 for senior citizens and WVU faculty and staff, and $10 for WVU students with identification.
They may be purchased by calling 304-293-SHOW or visiting the WVU box offices at the Mountainlair and the Creative Arts Center. They are also available through Ticketmaster outlets or by visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com/ .
More on the Net: http://theatre.wvu.edu/