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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

Croswell offers spooky premiere

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The headless horseman is heading for the Croswell Opera House.

The Adrian theater is premiering Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow tonight, a musical written for the opera house by Don Wilson, Croswell technical director, and composer Dave Zabriskie.

Wilson said his inspiration for the show came in part from Johnny Depp.

"[The Legend of Sleepy Hollow] has always been one of my favorite pieces of classic American literature. After seeing the Johnny Depp movie (1999's Sleepy Hollow), I thought I would love to see this on stage."

He began writing the lyrics and has been collaborating with Zabriskie since 2001.

"He's fantastic," Wilson said of the freelance composer, who worked on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. "He put some incredible music to the words that I wrote."

Adrian native Tobin Ost handled the scenic design long distance from Broadway, where he's working on Brooklyn, a musical now in previews. (It's scheduled to open Tuesday). His other New York credits include Zanna - Don't, Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, and Assassins.

"He e-mails and sends us drawings, and we talk three or four times a week. It's a wonder of technology," Wilson said.

Playing Ichabod Crane is Tory Doctor, a professional actor who just finished working on Encore, a Broadway revue staged at Tokyo Disney.

The path from Tokyo to Adrian would seem to be an odd one, but Doctor said it wasn't all that strange.

"The director, Cindy Farnham, had seen my work a couple of times over the past few years, and when the role became available, she contacted me and asked if I were interested.

"We went back and forth. They sent the music, I recorded some songs and sent them back, and I simply fell in love with the show."

Doctor says that thanks to Disney's portrayal of Ichabod, the character has been typecast as a fool. But in the original story he is quite charismatic, especially toward the ladies.

"Ichabod also can be bumbling and he certainly can be foolish, but there are so many sides to Ichabod, and the show really captures that."

Farnham believes Wilson's play to be one of the more faithful versions of Washington Irving's classic tale. "It really focuses on the love story between Ichabod, Katrina, and Brom Bones," she said.

The latter two characters are played by Carrie Wilson of Ann Arbor and Andrew Staton of Ypsilanti. Also represented in the cast of almost 30 performers are Stryker, Ohio, and the Michigan towns of Adrian, Tecumseh, Blissfield, Clinton, Palmyra, Addison, and Ottawa Lake.

Wilson says that the Adrian premiere is the first step for Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Performances and workshops are coming up in Saginaw, Mich., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Salt Lake City, and, he said, there is a distinct possibility of at least a workshop version in New York City.

But for now, Wilson said, the Croswell is intending to entertain with some good music, acting, and creepy chills.

There's that headless horseman, of course, but there's also a dark and forbidding forest.

"Do you know how creepy it can be, being alone in the woods at night?" he asks with a hint of spooky glee that would do Stephen King proud.

"Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is scheduled at 8 tonight, tomorrow, and Oct. 29, 9 p.m. Oct. 30, and 3 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 31 in the Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and students. Information: 517-264-7469.

The title should provide a clue.

The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) opens tonight in the Little Theater Off the Square in Bryan, Ohio, a production of the Williams County Playhouse.

From Hamlet to A Midsummer Night's Dream, with a football game thrown in for good measure, five performers will condense the bard's entire career into 90 minutes of hilarity.

The cast comprises Theron Steinke, who is also the director, Wes Shoup, Chris Grynek, Kim Sener, and Brenton Collyer.

The Williams County Community Theater present "The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)" through Oct. 30 in the Little Theater Off the Square, 208 West Butler St., Bryan, Ohio.. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Information: 419-485-3861.

Heidelberg College's department of communications and theater arts presents the musical Godspell through Sunday in the 250-seat Gundlach Theatre, which is connected to Founders Hall on the Tiffin campus.

Richard Groetzinger, head of the department, directs the John-Michael Tebelak-Stephen Schwartz musical based on the passion of Christ. The 18-member cast acts out parables with a light touch and songs such as "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord," "Day by Day," and "Turn Back, O Man."

"Godspell" continues at 8 p.m. today and 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow and 2 p.m. Sunday in Gundlach Theatre at Heidelberg College, 310 East Market St., Tiffin. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, and free for Heidelberg students with ID. Information: 419-448-2305.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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