As autumn sets in with its deadening trees, dark evenings and crisp air, certain tales are perfect for capturing the mood of the season. The classic “Sleepy Hollow” is one of those books.
Last October the story written by Washington Irvin was adapted for stage and brought to life at the Mishler Theatre with William Allen Jones’ “Sleepy Hollow” presented by Carysel Entertainment. Each of the performances of the show sold out and was met with acclaim. The musical will be brought to life again this October in the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York.
“It’s really a blessing how it happened. I started an Instagram account for the musical and was putting stuff up there. I received a message from the Visit Sleepy Hollow — the visitor’s bureau — and thought wow this looks exciting. Jim Logan from there had listened to the music I had put up (on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify and Pandora) and fell in love with the show,” said Jones.
He was asked to bring his production to Sleepy Hollow in New York for select dates in October of 2019 to coincide with the town’s bicentennial celebration of Irvin’s classic tale. Jones, who loved the story of “Sleepy Hollow” since he was a child, could not believe this opportunity was happening.
“The timing is extraordinary; they literally just kicked off the celebration and the show is being promoted as part of it. The show will be playing in the Irvington (Town Hall) Theatre, named after Ir-vin,” Jones said. According to Jones, Irvington is a stone’s throw away from Sleepy Hollow, much like Altoona and Hollidaysburg are in close proximity.
The original five main leads who performed in the show last October at the Mishler — Tony Demi as Ichabod Crane, Ian Brumbaugh as Brom Bones, Ellie Irwin as Katrina Van Tassel, Rodney Berkey as Baltus Van Tassel and, Gabbi Lechak as Hetty Smythe — will be reprising their roles for the New York performances. After they signed on to perform for the upcoming show, the actors and Jones visited Sleepy Hollow, a dreamlike experience for all.
Jones said, “For inspiration we took a trip and met Jim. The story is literally topographically correct. The Van Tassel mansion is still there — he (Irvin) didn’t make up the landmarks. He goes across an old bridge — the Horseman Bridge — and the Old Dutch Church is still there. The cemetery is there — a big tourist draw — with the people who inspired the characters buried there. The actors stood by the gravestones of those who they portray. It was a really inspirational, cool trip.”
Brumbaugh agreed that being in the town was a unique experience. He said, “There is such a history there; the town is incredible. It was so surreal walking the same path that Ichabod took in the story. We saw the actual Old Dutch Church and in the cemetery I stood behind the stone of my character of Brom Bones. The experience was incredible.”
The town is promoting the musical and local establishments are getting into the spirit of the show as well.
“A restaurant wants to create a drink for people for opening night,” Jones said.
The ensemble is anticipating the town’s welcome and being able to showcase their work to a new group of theatergoers.
“The premier at the Mishler had a lot of family, friends and local community. By taking the show to the town of Sleepy Hollow there is a whole different audience and that makes it so thrilling for me,” said Brumbaugh.
Brumbaugh, who saw a show by Jones as a child and still has a piece from that show that Jones signed, cannot believe how his fortune, work with Jones and this musical has come full circle.
“It [the artwork] says ‘Good luck on your future endeavors.’ It’s cool being part of history. Will is passionate about this story and it’s awesome to be able to bring it to life. Taking this show on tour — not many people can say they did that. It’s a joy for me and a pleasure to do it,” he said.
If you go
What: William Allen Jones’ “Sleepy Hollow”
When: To be determined
Where: Irvington Town Hall Theatre, 85 Main St, Irvington, NY 10533