When "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is mentioned, it is easy to picture the versions that we have grown up with, like the Disney cartoon version or the sinister Johnny Depp adaptation. Americas High School’s production of the classic supernatural short story by Washington Irving did not resemble any of these well known versions, but was a spine-chilling musical production all its own. The unique special effects and haunting songs frightened the audience just in time for the spookiest weekend of the year.
If you are not familiar with this musical tale, "Sleepy Hollow," written by Vera Morriss and Bill Francoeur, is set in a strange Dutch settlement in the late 1700’s. It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, the new, superstitious schoolteacher that has come to town. He is entranced by Katrina Van Tassell, the 16 year old daughter of a wealthy farmer, and competes with the burly Abraham “Brom Bones” for her hand in marriage. When Ichabod is leaving Katrina’s party one night, he is attacked in the graveyard by the legendary ghost of a headless horseman and is never seen again. His mysterious disappearance leaves Katrina to marry Brom Bones and everyone in the town to wonder what really happened in the graveyard that fateful night.
The most entertaining performance of the night came from the show’s protagonist, Ichabod Crane, played by Robert Monticone. He showed the most commitment to his character out of everyone on stage, as his awkward movements, slouching walk, and frightened expressions never faltered throughout the night. His lanky dancing and timid voice made him seem like a very fragile man, one who could break at any moment. The perfect foil to his character was Joel Olivas as the arrogant Brom Bones. His portrayal was reminiscent of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, with his constant admiration of his biceps and hilarious stalking off stage whenever he was rejected by Katrina. His singing was solid and clear, alluding to his proud personality even during the songs. One of the most enjoyable songs of the night was “Katrina, would you let me walk you home?” This song performed in front of the curtain played on the personalities of both characters and allowed Naomi Ruiz, as Katrina, to let her a
loof character and smooth singing voice shine as well. The schoolchildren and the women of the show had extremely nice voices and were enjoyable to watch in the background of every scene.
The technical aspects of the show were also very impressive. Techies maneuvered two large, rolling boxes that cleverly doubled as the schoolhouse, Katrina’s home, and the backdrop for the graveyard. The graveyard scene was especially attention-grabbing, as the stage was suddenly lit by black light and the zombie-like phantoms eerily crept onto the stage from the audience, glowing like ghosts. The phantoms’ bloody, torn-up costumes were the most believable of the story, while the costumes of the many other characters were sometimes not exactly reminiscent of the time period. Still, the acting, singing, and technical effects were so exceptional that the authenticity of the period was easily forgotten.
At the end of the night, Americas High School created an eerie world full of ghosts and mystery that was as entertaining as it was frightening. The audience left the theater ready for Halloween, hopefully heeding the actors’ warning to “beware the ghost of Sleepy Hollow."
by Khayla Golucke of Montwood High School
Life is all about making decisions: who to marry, where to go to school, which path to take, etc. Sometimes we are pressured into making decisions we do not want to make, or hoping others make the ones we want them to. It is no different for the characters in Americas High School’s musical adaptation of “Sleepy Hollow."
Just in time for Halloween, “Sleepy Hollow,” written by Vera Morris and Bill Francoeur, was just the thing to get you into the mood for ghosts, urban legends, and just plain fright. In the play Ichabod Crane is the new school master in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow. What he does not know is that they “are all superstitious, Yankee folk in the town of Sleepy Hollow.” Though, during his short time in this town, Ichabod has only one goal: to marry the town beauty, Katrina. He has some tough competition though, with the pretentious and arrogant Brom Bones. Ichabod goes through a roller coaster trying to win Katrina’s love, deal with being new in town, and most of all being haunted by the phantoms of the graveyard. In the end, though, the latter gets the best of him as he is taken by the fabled headless horseman, never to be heard of again.
Robert Monticone, playing Ichabod, did an acceptable job. He had a vivacious nature that always brought humor to his words. His use of body language was also commendable and often stole the scene. He had lovely chemistry with Katrina, played by Naomi Ruiz, whom had nice character development. Joel Olivas also did a very nice job, portraying Brom Bones very accurately and humorously. One of the most notable characters was the young Walter, played by Ernest Harrell. Whenever, Harrell walked on stage all eyes went to him. Though he didn’t have an array of spoken lines, his physical movements and reactions were always entertaining. The ensemble as a whole had nice singing voices and always added just what was needed to the scene.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the play were the phantoms. Moving with an eerie fluidity, they always brought chills to the audience. Their makeup was incredible as well as their overall appearance. During the graveyard scenes their glowing eyes had you in a trance and involved you that much more into the scene.
The set was simple, yet sufficient, consisting of moving, double sided platforms, featuring a classroom, living room, and graveyard. The lights were exceptional and always added to the scene. The black light during the graveyard scenes added immense dramatic effect and made it just that much more chilling.
Overall, "Sleepy Hollow" was a success and did just what it set out to do: keep the audience entertained, whether that be making them laugh or giving them chills. The performance was memorable in all aspects and deeply entertaining. It was just the thing to build anticipation for the coming dreary holiday.
by Marissa Rojero of Eastwood High School
Every night on All Hallow’s Eve, the thunderous galloping of a horse can be heard on the outskirts of an old town settlement. Ghosts and phantoms appear as the curtain is raised, and the audience is thrown into suspense as these sprits begin to sing and dance the song of the Headless Horsemen. Rumors are told of ghostly misfortunes that have befallen the town of Sleepy Hollow. This is just the beginning of “Sleepy Hollow” performed by Americas High School on October 29, only two days before…Halloween.
The musical adaptation of this play, written by Vera Morriss and Bill Francoeur, illustrates an ominous, yet humorous adventure of the townsfolk haunted in Sleepy Hollow. When Ichabod, the new school master arrives in town, the citizens welcome him and begin to tell him the terrifying tale of the Headless Horsemen. Brom Bones, portrayed by Joel Olivas, dislikes the fact that this new school master has a crush on his beloved Katrina. Brom begins creating mischief for Ichabod. As the two fight for Katrina’s heart, Ichabod is haunted by the phantoms and soon disappears from the town with no explanation.
Ichabod, played by Robert Monticone, is a dorky and loveable character. He catches the attention of the entire audience with his facial, body, and vocal expressions. Robert has perfected his character. Ichabod’s musical number, “Save the Rod and Spoil the Child," was highlighted as Monticone’s best performance of the night when he addressed the school children on how to properly behave. His high energy and projection amplified the meaning of the song, as he emphasized the word “Discipline!” he changed the tone of his voice from delightful to menacing. Monticone, given the canvas of the stage, painted the admirable character this play needed to tell this story.
Brom Bones, performed by Joel Olivas and Naomi Ruiz as Katrina Van Tassell became a duo. Each character has an argumentative nature about their feelings for each other. Their characters were well played. Ruiz’s vocal talents brought a ray of light onto the stage and illuminated the entire theatre. Additionally, Olivas’ character was brought to life as a cocky, yet loving personality to counter that of Ruiz’s respectful and thoughtful nature. Their opposite characters complemented each other.
Stage choreography and black light lighting added to the overall effectiveness of the play. Even though the microphones would give off feedback, it was quickly corrected by the microphone technician, Matthew Amor. All six phantoms did a wonderful job being spooky and elegant all the same time. Amongst the dancing phantoms, the woman in white, Sarah Rae Parks stood out the most with her unique entrance on all fours.
The cast did a splendid job singing, dancing, and acting. Overall, the appearance of the show was above average. “Sleepy Hollow” performed by Americas High School was a delicious treat for Halloween and many would enjoy seeing this in their goody bag this year.
by Joel Martinez of Ysleta HIgh School