Arts and Entertainment

Lights, camera, action! Whidbey Children’s Theater debuts first performance in new location

Caelen Coe as Ichabod Crane, Miranda Cassée as Katrina Van Tassel, Ben Germano as Brom Bones practice for the upcoming performance of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” along with  Izzy Bolding as Hans Van Ripper and Liam Henny as Baltus Van Tassel in the back. - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Caelen Coe as Ichabod Crane, Miranda Cassée as Katrina Van Tassel, Ben Germano as Brom Bones practice for the upcoming performance of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” along with Izzy Bolding as Hans Van Ripper and Liam Henny as Baltus Van Tassel in the back.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

The sets are painted, the costumes are sewn and the theater is revamped.

Whidbey Children’s Theater presents the inaugural performance in its new digs with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, next to Langley Middle School.

Langley actor Michael Morgen moves from the stage to the director’s seat for the first time with the play. He said he found directing different and a bit more stressful than acting.

“It’s a double-edged sword. On the plus side, you get to create everything about it, but that’s also stressful — it’s that wonderful mix,” he said.

Morgen updated the time period from 1790 in the original play to the 1950s.

“We wanted to engage the kids more and give them an edge when approaching the material,” Morgen said.

It can be hard for children to identify with characters from such a different time period, he added. This setting provides for leather jackets and poodle skirts; it was fun updating that, he said.

Audience members will recognize the same themes of falling in love, jealousy and miscommunication.

“I was surprised at what a funny play it is,” he said. “We think of it as a spooky play, but it’s quite a balance and mix.”

The cast features 16 children from sixth grade to 12th grade.

Izzy Bolding, 12, is performing for the first time with the children’s theater. Her character, old and grumpy Hans Van Ripper, is the opposite of her personality, but she’s learning to get into the character.

She said she is nervous for the opening performance.

Morgen said he’s excited to see the children perform in front of an audience.

The play follows a young teacher, Ichabod Crane performed by Caelen Coe, to the small town of Sleepy Hollow. Crane begins courting Katrina Van Tassel, performed by Miranda Cassée, against the leader of a local motorcycle gang, Brom Bones, played by Ben Germano.

Germano, 14, said he’s never played such a jerk before — and he loves it.

“I get to be this cool guy in a leather jacket with a vengeance,” he said.

Germano has performed with the theater for four years and he enjoys the new location.

“There’s so many more seats, lighting and technology, it’s going to be awesome,” he said.

Morgen said moving into the new theater has been like moving to a stage on Broadway for the children. The theater includes a green room and dressing rooms for the young actors along with administrative rooms in other parts of the building.

“We’re enjoying the new opportunity,” Morgen said. “There’s so much more depth and range.”

The theater adds more set design and lighting options that will be showcased during the play. It’s his goal to make the show as big as the new theater, with a few surprises.

“We’re really relishing that opportunity, the chance to do something on this scale,” he said.

“I’m excited to see what people think and see people be surprised, a little scared and leave with a smile,” he said.

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