Long before "sleepy hollow" became a phrase best used to describe Congress, Washington Irving made it famous in his classic ghost story, "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow," now adapted for the stage by Patrick Ahearn of the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts program. The production starts previews Halloween night, Oct. 31, at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, located on U of C's campus in Storrs.
In his final year of the MFA program in Puppet Arts at the university, Ahearn also directs the piece, which is suitable for audiences of all ages. Ahearn received the Beacon Award (for videos dealing with political issues) for his puppet vid, "A Dinosaur's Day In Trenton."
In Irving's tale, bookish teacher Ichabod Crane falls in love with Katrina Van Tassel. When Brom Bones, the local bully, finds his suit to Katrina being challened, he seeks revenge, conjuring up the spirit of the dread Headless Horseman.
Told entirely with rod puppets and shadow effects, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow stars Michael Chann, Kevin A. Fish, Oliver P. Frates, Tracy Hartman, Jared C. Jenkins, Reay Alwyn Kaplan, Allison M. Lebonitte, Matthew Leonard, Erin Longemann, Michael McKenna, Carole Simms and Nate Wilson. Lighting is by Debra Leigh Siegel, sound by April L. LaBelle, costumes by Peg Carbonneau, and sets by Tony Andrea.
Upcoming productions at Connecticut Repertory Theatre (which is the producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut), are Hair, A Bright Room Called Day, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, and Iphigenia And Other Daughters. For tickets ($10-$12) and information on The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, which opens Nov. 1 and runs to Nov. 10, call (860) 486-3969. Be warned that, barring the occasional held or returned seat, the entire run of the show is already sold out.
-- By David Lefkowitz