‘Sleepy Hollow’ opens today

Photo by Richard Sayer

The Advanced Youth Theatre program at the Barrow-Civic Theatre will bring to the stage its fall production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” today and Saturday at the Franklin theater.

This auditioned production includes 35 cast members and seven technical crew members, ages 10-18.

In normal fashion, the youths will take the stage with a delightful presentation of the production, according to theater program directors.

However, this year is particularly special as it marks 10 years of Jessica Rodriguez leading the costumes and technical crew of youths, program directors said.

Rodriguez has been a teacher with Oil City Area Schools since 2005, where she now teaches first grade at Smedley School. She is from McKees Rocks and has resided in Franklin since 2010. She is married to Michael Rodriguez and has two young children, Michael and Natalie.

When the youth theater program began in 2001, slowly adding youths to the backstage aspects of the production came with only running spot light and music.

Under Rodriguez’s supervision, youths build the set, create or find the props and design the lighting and sound for the show.

“She has taken the program to a whole new level and the program is very excited to celebrate how it has grown in 10 years,” directors said.

In addition to Rodriguez, the show’s technical crew and costume design are supervised by Angie Carothers and Jill Kellner. Carothers, a 2005 graduate from Cranberry is currently a first grade teacher at Cranberry elementary. Kellner, a 2010 graduate from Cranberry and former youth theater participant is fourth and fifth grade multi-level teacher at St. Patrick’s school in Franklin. Both reside in Cranberry.

This productions technical crew includes Britton Backer, an 11th grader from Franklin; Spencer Greene, a seventh grader from Oil City; Ashton Kish, a sixth grader from Grove City; River Perry, a 10th grader, and Mariner Perry, a fourth grader, both from Cranberry; Tyler Seelnacht, a 10th grader from Franklin; and Jordan Zerbe, fifth grader from Cranberry.

About the show

This version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a wonderful tale of how Ichabod Crane (Devin Zerbe of Cranberry) discovers the students have no discipline in school (students: Martina Baughman, Ayman Braiber and Izzy Ramfos of Franklin; Jasey Donovan of Valley Grove; Corrina Curry of Clarion; Mason Albert of Cranberry; Steven Heise, Calan Hollis and Addi McGarvey of Oil City; Tyler Higby of Slippery Rock; Sophia Klownowski of Grove City) and have chased the last teacher away.

In addition, he finds the news, whether true or false, travels faster than lightning through the women of the town who also are excited to see a new young single man (Cambree Backer and Genevieve Hoover of Franklin; Maddy Bunyak, Kaitlynn Moore, and Ella Perry of Cranberry; Ashley Barletta, Lillie Heise; Gracie Hollis, Bailey McMahon and Alex Webster of Oil City; Brooke Hovis and Erin Swartfager of Grove City; Jackie Higby of Slippery Rock). Seeing how excited the women are to flirt with Ichabod disturbs the town’s popular boy Brom Bones (Gavin Empson of Valley Grove) and his loyal friend Andy Brimstone (Mason Stephens of Oil City).

Other characters include Mrs. Vanhouton (Hayley Ripple of Valley Grove) who houses the teacher in the town with her two daughters Martha (Layla Hollis of Oil City) and Jessica (Brooke Whitling of Cranberry). The annual Halloween party is hosted by Myneer VanTassel (Noel Bunyak of Cranberry). The other townsfolk (Jenna Pierce of Knox, Jackson Donovan of Valley Grove; Ailish McGrail of Oil City) Finally we meet Old Man Blackwell (Ben Hoover of Franklin) who tells the annual Halloween Story “The Tale of the Headless Horseman.”

The show is under stage direction of Martha Heise, a 1989 graduate from Oil City and an elementary music teacher in Oil City. In addition, she serves on the Franklin Civic Operetta Association’s board of directors and resides in Oil City.

The show is choreographed by Kelly Zerbe, a 1993 graduate of Oil City and a second grade teacher in Oil City. She also teaches dance for Thomas School of Dance and resides in Cranberry.

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. today and at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets range from $10 to $13 and can be purchased by visiting the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin, calling 437-3440 or visiting barrowtheatre.com.