THEATER: LCHS students bringing two scary stories to stage

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 07:14 PM

Students at Lee County High School will be putting their own dramatic spin on two classic American tales tonight and Friday in back-to-back short plays — stage adaptations of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Lottery."

The school's advanced theater III and IV students are putting on the plays under the direction of drama teacher Ronald Coley, who said he chose the stories for their common theme of change — and how people react to it. Tickets to the shows, which will start at 7:30 p.m. in the school's auditorium, are $5 for students and $7 for adults.

"In the first one ["Sleepy Hollow'], you've got a new schoolmaster, and much of the town likes him, but some don't, and we all know how that ends," Coley said. "Then in the second one ["The Lottery"], you've got a story of a family who wants change, but the community refuses. I don't want to give away the ending."

But those who have read the short story will likely remember the controversial ending. When "The Lottery" was published in 1948, it earned its writer hundreds of letters of hate mail, although it has since gone on to become a commonly assigned story in grade school English classes, regarded as a classic.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is one of the best known, and earliest, works of American fiction, famously featuring Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman — so it fits not only the theme of change, but also the upcoming Halloween holiday.

Coley said the two plays, including intermissions, will probably last a little less than two hours. He added that he hasn't had many chances to run through the full performance with the full cast, since mandatory standardized tests keep getting his actors and actresses in certain grades called away.

"It's too bad we've had all the issues with time, and missing actors, but the kids work really hard," Coley said, gesturing toward the stage as some worked through a scene while others sat in the audience, going over their scripts. "I think it's going to be fine."

Once this show is through, Coley said his students will begin working on two other plays coming up soon — "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Charlotte's Web."

"Charlotte's Web" was put into the schedule after the school's drama department received dozens of letters from students at Tramway Elementary School requesting it, Coley said, and he and his students were eager to take up the production. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a classic Christmas story and will also coincide with a toy drive being put on by the school's chapter of the International Thespian Society — an honors group for drama students.

He said that to recreate the story's setting at Macy's department store, he needs lots of brand new toys — still in the boxes — to give the same toy-store feeling. He's asking people to donate new, unopened toys (or money to buy toys) to the school's thespian society to be used in the play. Afterward, Coley said, all the donations will be given to Toys for Tots or another group that distributes toys to needy children and families during Christmastime.

"It was all the kids' idea," Coley said. "I was trying to figure out how to make something that would look like a toy store, and a group of them were trying to organize a fundraiser. They came up with the idea to combine the two and brought it to me, and I thought it was great."

People who want to donate can contact Coley at

At Southern Lee High School, drama teacher Mike Jones said his students won't start their season until next month, when they'll begin a series of five one-act plays. He said he couldn't announce a full schedule yet because some of the details are not set, but the first show will be at the school Nov. 19 along with the debut of the Cavalyrics, the school's new a capella singing group.


What: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Lottery," as performed by Lee County High School theater students

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight and Friday

Where: Lee County High School auditorium

Tickets: $5 for students and $7 for adults