Shaler puts futuristic twist on 'Sleepy Hollow' for fall play
Shaler Area High School students will present a twist on the quintessential autumn play “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Even though the play is set in 1790, the Shaler Area production will incorporate sets and costumes with steampunk — a genre combining historical elements with science-fiction inspired technology.
The performances are slated for 7 p.m. Nov. 10; as well as 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Shaler High School Auditorium.
The play is based on Washington Irving's short story about schoolmaster Ichabod Crane's experiences in the haunted town of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Crane, originally from Connecticut, competes with Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt for Katrina Van Tassel's hand until Crane experiences an ill-fated encounter in the woods.
Senior Andrew Lesnett, who plays Ichabod Crane, said the portrayal features a lighter script than most audiences probably anticipate.
“Everyone's thinking it's supposed to be really scary. Well, yes, there's some aspects to that, but there's a lot of humor, which I did not know going into that.”
Senior Zach Reed, who plays Brom Bones, said people might incorrectly associate this play with the 1999 movie “Sleepy Hollow” starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
“The way people usually see Ichabod in the movie, they think he is suave,” Lexi Cerny, senior student director said. “Here he is, like, an outcast. He is nerdy and a weirdo. Brom is the knight in shining armor.”
“He's (Ichabod's) kind of a jerk. He's trying to come off as super nice to the adults, but in reality, he's just like sucking up to them. And he's, like, a really bad guy,” Lesnett said.
Reed said his character's personality evolves throughout the show in a manner that parallels Ichabod's.
“Brom Bones is kind of a jerk at first, just because he's really confident and kind of full of himself. It reminds you kind of like Gaston, from ‘Beauty and the Beast.' Like throughout the show, he realizes that is not a good way to be if you want people to like you.”
Sophomore Bella James, who plays Katrina Van Tassel, has mostly played male roles in Shaler Area shows, such as Michael Banks in “Mary Poppins.”
“It's a lot different because you have to talk differently and move differently and just take on a different personality.”
Thirty-eight cast members will take the stage during the show.
“There's a surprising amount of ensemble scenes, especially for a play. Like, we have a church choir and that's a big part of it,” Cerny said. “We actually sing and we have a church choir director and there's a dance scene.”
Thirty crew members are bringing the steampunk theme to life.
Co-director Kristen Susany said the show's costume designer, Kari Simonetti, has wanted to incorporate steampunk into previous shows for some time.
“Since ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' is a work of speculative fiction, with futuristic and supernatural elements, we realized that steampunk was a perfect fit,” Susany said.
Since the crew must work within the confines of a high school budget, they are upcycling objects and painting them to resemble metal. The crew has transformed carpet tubes into tree trunks and is cutting and carving 250 Styrofoam gears into branches, according to set designer Jeanne Marshall, whose daughter Kelsey is acting in the play.
“Artistically, for me and for the students, I think it's really fun to shake up your brain and work outside of your zone and this show is definitely doing that.”
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.