The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

91° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local organization Valley of the Moon takes theater to the streets with “Haunted Ruins”

    Courtesy Scott Griessel / Creatista Photography

    Valley of the Moon will premiere its interactive theater performance of “The Case of Sleepy Hollow” this Friday, and it will run every weekend through October.

    Hidden within the residential streets of Tucson among the cacti and tumbleweed is a mystical world of fairy princesses, mad doctors and headless horsemen. This isn’t some fantasy, though it may seem like one. This is Haunted Ruins at Valley of the Moon.

    Every year, volunteers of all ages and walks of life come together to turn Valley of the Moon into a walking theater of spooky proportions. This year, the Valley has been inspired by old scary stories and has been transformed for “The Case of Sleepy Hollow.”

    Taking inspiration from the original story of “Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman” by Washington Irving, the folks at the Valley have crafted their very own version of the myth where their audience can get in on the fun.

    “Ichabod Crane is missing and there’s an agent from the Fairy Bureau of Investigation that’s looking for him,” said Rebecca Taylor, a high school sophomore playing the role of Agent Dewdrop. “On the way, we discover new mysteries and have to solve them.”

    RELATED: Review: Arizona Repertory Theater’s ‘Epic Proportions’ is meta-hilarious

    The story picks up after the events of the original myth and incorporates the audience in the show as FBI agents in training. Along with the whimsical setting and story, the audience’s participation in the show makes “The Case of Sleepy Hollow” and past Haunted Ruins shows so unique.

    “[Valley of the Moon] is different because you get to go in it and you get to see what the world is like not just in one place,” said Uma Vincent, a sixth-grade student playing Aunt Bones.

    Turning the Valley into Sleepy Hollow is no easy feat and could only be accomplished through the hard work and elbow grease of the Valley’s many dedicated volunteers.

    Whether acting in the show or helping out behind the scenes, the Valley welcomes anyone and everyone to be a part of Haunted Ruins. Some volunteers like Taylor are returning members of the Valley crew while many others are performing for their first time.

    Maddy Hensley Kingery and Maya Peden, two Tucsonan fifth graders, are making their Valley debut in “The Case of Sleepy Hollow.”

    “This is one of my first actual plays so I’m really excited,” Hensley Kingery said. “At the other plays, it was just my family and friends coming, but this time it’s a whole audience.”

    Vincent and Heidi Peden are sharing the part of Aunt Bones, a part in which both excel despite differences in age and theater experience.

    RELATED: Old Tucson’s ‘Nightfall’ offers thrills and chills with new additions and old traditions

    Age diversity is one of the things Peden treasures about her experience at the Valley.

    “You find your inner child here,” Peden said. “We create these relationships with our fellow actors that are just unbelievable and unparalleled to other shows I’ve been in.”

    Multiple actors playing the same roles makes the logistical situation of a walking play easier, but it also allows more eager and passionate volunteers to be a part of the show.

    “We get a lot of people here who are sort of misfit toys,” said Valley of the Moon President Zack Jarrett. “Valley of the Moon will shape itself to fit the people who come rather than force them to fit some pre-conceived mold.”

    This universal acceptance is part of what makes the Valley such a special place. In the middle of a bustling city is this magical little world where people from the community can create something for everyone to get lost in.

    “The community is inventing, making and consuming its own entertainment for one another and with one another,” Jarrett said. “It’s this hyper-local thing … and we’re making this up as we go.”

    This strong sense of community is what has kept the Valley alive for so many decades and allows shows like “The Case of Sleepy Hollow” to go on. Costuming the show’s cast of characters, building the beautiful set pieces and simply keeping the lights on are all part of putting on the show, but the Valley is able to be completely self-sufficient through community support.

    “I’m excited to see how I can make people happy by acting,” Maya said.

    “The Case of Sleepy Hollow” begins this Friday and will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October from 6-8:30 p.m. Tours depart every 15 minutes and tickets are $5 for students and $10 for others.  

    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter

    More to Discover
    Activate Search