Find out how the Headless Horseman really lost his head when master storyteller Jonathan Kruk presents “The Legends of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ — The Haunted History of the Headless Horseman and Sleepy Hollow’s Ghosts'” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts at 104 Main St. in Wellsboro.
This hour and a half, live, theatrical performance at Wellsboro is recommended for adults and children, ages 10 and older. “Younger children may get restless with some of the historical aspects of the stories I tell or may be scared by the jump-starts while older children and adults will enjoy the moments when the stories literally make them jump and find the historical information fascinating,” Kruk said. “Audiences appreciate finding out where the Headless Horseman really originated, get absorbed in the tales and find refreshing the melding of storytelling with dramatic theatre and history.”
Dressed in 1790s style clothing, Kruk acts out when storytelling, creating characters using varied voices, accents, gestures and audience participation. He will perform the origin tales of the Headless Horseman and the spirits surrounding this mythical figure. Described by the New York Times as “intrepid,” Kruk tells each ghost story with drama, electrifying his audiences.
Writing “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 1820, American short story author Washington Irving wove Dutch traditions, real people and American Revolutionary War events into his Gothic ghost story. “This is the 200th anniversary year of the first story written by an American to ‘go viral’,” said Kruk. “‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ introduced the world to characters like the first nerd Ichabod Crane, the flirtatious Katrina Van Tassel, the lovable mischief-making Brom Bones and the iconic Headless Horseman. Irving also haunted us with the ghost of Tragical Major André, and the Wailing Woman in White,” he said.
Kruk grew up on tall tales and daydreams in Westchester County, New York. Telling tales to his kid brother at bedtime led him to an epiphany; children love live stories. He turned something he loved into a career. A full-time storyteller since 1989 he has appeared at thousands of schools, libraries, festivals, and historic sites.
In 1995, he started telling multiple Washington Irving tales as part of Historic Hudson Valley’s programming at Sunnyside, Irving’s homestead. In October of 2010, the organization moved Kruk into the 1685 Old Dutch Church in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, New York. The church is the burial place of the Headless Horseman. As “The Legend” storyteller, he has performed Irving’s classic 60 times every year, more than anyone else on the planet.
Kruk created his rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and since early winter of 2011 has performed this solo show for Historic Hudson Valley a dozen times a year at the nearby Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns plus another dozen times for various regional theaters from Vermont to Latrobe, Pa.
He has long enchanted children and adults with finger fables, story theatre, myths, medieval legends and the lore of the Hudson River. Kruk resides in Cold Spring, N.Y., a favorite haunt of young Washington Irving, which is about 30 miles north of Sleepy Hollow and 35 miles south of Tarrytown, all located along the Hudson River.
Selected “Best Storyteller in the Hudson Valley,” Kruk has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC’s Good Morning America, The Travel Channel, and the BBC.
Studying English and art, Kruk earned a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College and a master’s in educational theater from New York University. He also studied ritual urban theater with Gabrielle Roth. He has performed for the New York Historical Society, Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Fest, the NYS Reading Teacher’s Association, the Nassau County Museum, and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network.
Kruk has eight award-winning recordings, and books, “Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley,” and “Legends and Lore of the Hudson Highlands.” Listen for Jonathan on WAMC radio.
This is the first show in the Deane Center’s new Storytellers Series. Admission is $15. For more information or for tickets, call (570) 724-6220 or visit www.deanecenter.com.