Just in time for Halloween, the Lake City Playhouse on Thursday will open its first family show of the season, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” featuring a cast of 21, all of whom are children or teens, with the exception of Jay Anders in the role of Ichabod Crane.
Based on the classic story by Washington Irving, Crane is the new schoolmaster from Connecticut who arrives in Sleepy Hollow in the year 1795. He quickly gains the attention of the local “catch,” Katrina Van Tassel, the only daughter of the wealthiest farmer in town.
“She likes Ichabod, but she has another suitor, Brom Bones,” said Tracey Vaughan, playhouse artistic and executive director. “She likes to play the two off of each other.”
At a dance at Van Tassel’s home, Crane hears the ghost stories that surround the town, and the legend that scares him the most is that of the headless horseman. The horseman haunts the church bridge, and doesn’t allow anyone to pass at night – a route Crane must take home.
“This particular script suggests that the actors form the bridge, which they do,” Vaughan said. The horseman’s horse is part of his costume, and Crane’s much slower steed, Gunpowder, is suggested by set elements.
The play features six storytellers, the ghosts of villagers who serve to narrate the story and also form the bridge.
Vaughan stressed that the play is appropriate for all ages, but toddlers who scare easily might be frightened.
“There’s no blood, there’s no guts, there might be some scary music, and the arrival of the headless horseman might be a bit much for a 2- or 3-year-old,” she said. “It’s all a lot of fun. It’s a short play because it’s designed for children. With the intermission it should be an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half.”
This is the first performance for Anders. His daughter, Erin Anders, also is in the play. Vaughan said he is the perfect choice for Ichabod Crane, with his tall, lanky build and his mannerisms, which fit the character.
Bryant Larsen, a teen who plays the role of Brom Bones, also makes his stage debut.
“There are actually quite a few people in the cast that it’s their first play ever, and I’m just astounded at how well they are doing,” Vaughan said. “The two principal males are very well-defined.”
Lindsay DeLong, also an older teen who has had some stage experience, plays the role of Katrina Van Tassel.
The assistant director, Phil Morin, recently joined the playhouse from the Cutter Theatre in Metaline Falls, Wash. He will direct “Clue: The Musical” in the spring. Scenes for “Legend” are being designed by local artist Lee Ja Junker; Jessica Rae, a costume student from Eastern Washington University, is in charge of costume design.
“It’s really fun to bring this to life,” Vaughan said. “I think we can all relate to Ichabod, who has this long journey home on a broken-down horse. We’ve got this poor skinny, scared schoolteacher being chased by this huge monster on a speedy stallion. The imagery has always stuck with me since I was a child.”
Vaughan added parts to the play to get more children involved. She said it’s been a very rewarding experience to direct a play with so many kids.
“They’re doing a really good job,” Vaughan said.
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