If you have been adhering to alongside with my Halloween adventures this 12 months, you’ve got currently survived a surfeit of jump scares and your jangled nerves may well be jonesing for a seasonal treat which is a very little a lot less jarring, a small more literary. In that scenario, the Orlando Repertory Theatre (orlandorep.com) is presenting a one particular-man creation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow now through All Hallows’ Eve that guarantees to immerse audiences in Washington Irving’s traditional chiller. But really don’t permit the loved ones-welcoming designation delude you into contemplating this is one more Disneyfied just take on the tale of Ichabod Crane, due to the fact this display stars Stephen Pugh, a performer who recently confronted down a foe even more horrifying than the Headless Horseman: COVID-19.
If Pugh’s identify is just not by now common to you, you have not been paying consideration. He is been a fixture on Orlando’s phases considering the fact that the mid-aughts, from Theatre Downtown to Universal Orlando, like approximately two dozen roles at the Rep. He relocated to Boston for just about three a long time, which is exactly where he was hospitalized with a severe case of the coronavirus last year.
“It truly is been a wonderful recovery from all that. I’m very, extremely delighted that I haven’t had any extensive-phrase troubles,” Pugh explained of his recovery during a new interview forward of final Friday’s opening night time. “I am very happy and really grateful that [COVID-19] hasn’t ruined nearly anything permanently for me, and remaining back again home operating has boosted almost everything to a greater stage.”
Immediately after earning a quick return to Orlando in 2019 to star in the Rep’s How I Turned a Pirate, Pugh moved back forever late final yr. He not too long ago served as a educating artist for the Rep’s summer camps, which he says was “a journey! The youngsters are so extreme and superb to mould. … Educate[ing] them all the various methods of improv or performance room, the extra stuff of theater that these camps give … it was a truly awesome experience.” He in particular lauds artistic director Jeff Revels and his personnel for responsibly arranging socially distanced and deal with-masked camps and even supporting Pugh get his individual vaccination.
The Rep’s camps also afforded Pugh a further opportunity to advocate for presenting Derek G. Martin and Jesse M. Sullivan’s adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which he had beforehand stepped into for a 2018 output in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
“When COVID strike, I kept considering in the back of my head: It really is a 1-gentleman show this is the safest thing you could do if you might be seeking to do theater and continue to have that length with the viewers, [because] what is actually safer than just one particular human being telling a tale?” recalls Pugh. “I understood the Rep could actually immerse an viewers into the story. They actually generally produced these traditional tales greater and bolder than you would hope.”
The show’s script is mostly devoted to Irving’s original words and phrases, drawing descriptive passages immediately from the textual content, but Pugh claims Martin and Sullivan “desired anything a minimal little bit a lot more engaging, so they failed to more than-poeticize the creating.” And while the placing is still in the 1790s, some characters (like the boorish Brom Bones) incorporate just more than enough fashionable tweaks “to give the audience and young ones a very little bit of the stuff they like, so that it genuinely connects with them as well.”
Filling the Rep’s significant, 3-quarter-thrust Common Orlando Foundation Theatre all by yourself could possibly seem to be like a overwhelming obstacle for a solo performer, but it can be 1 Pugh claims he’s properly trained for around his 13-furthermore-reveals in the constructing, a lot of in that incredibly location. “I really like that phase,” enthuses Pugh. “I like just about every time I go on how unique it is, but how significantly it truly is the same … To be absolutely immersed with it again, it’s coming property. I sense very relaxed just getting my significant, loud self.”
Although he is the only are living performer on stage in Sleepy Hollow, he’s sharing the spotlight with Cliff Price’s established, Alexandria Vazquez’s costumes, Vandy Wood’s lights, Sarah Bender Allen’s props, and sound structure by Anthony Narciso with Anthony Marshall. It is all under the direction of Tara Kromer, with whom Pugh earlier collaborated on The Giver.
Placing apart all the flaming pumpkins and Colonial trappings, what definitely caught my consideration was Pugh’s enthusiasm for an essential lesson that modern audiences can master from Irving’s lengthy-vanished schoolmaster.
“In this model, your first narration is a teacher conversing to students about what’s actually going on in their city,” says Pugh. “I come to feel that’s important currently, when we are receiving our news from every which way and we will not know what is actual, what’s real truth and what is fiction. Here’s a instructor trying to make clear that this is your town’s background, this is what we’re heading to have to have to speak about, due to the fact other men and women really don’t want you to hear the other facet of what could be true.
“I genuinely uncover that poignant, since it happened back then it truly is occurring now it can be going to keep going on. The next technology is going to have to determine: ‘Do I want to consider this, and is there the evidence to aid it?'”