After six years of bringing theatre to Starved Rock Country, WilleyWorld Community Productions announces its expanded season, beginning with a presentation of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest."
The play is set to open at the 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa, on April 23, for four performances. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" was written by Dale Wasserman and based on the iconic novel by Ken Kesey. The Oscar-winning film version (1975) starred Jack Nicholson and launched the careers of Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif.
“We have wanted to expand our season and we believe now is the right time and this is the right play,” said Walt Willey, co-founder of WilleyWorld Community Productions. “We have presented our aummer ahow as the launch for Riverfest for the past six years, and we are thrilled to be adding more shows to our schedule.”
The Ottawa native is best known for his portrayal of Jackson Montgomery on the long-running television soap opera "All My Children" — as well as his portrayal of “Wild Bill” Hickok in his one-man show "Wild Bill" An Evening with James Butler Hickok," and the television series "Gunslingers."
“This is a wonderful play. It’s funny, poignant, dramatic and celebrates the human spirit,” Willey said of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." He will direct and play R.P. McMurphy.
“Across the years we have evolved into a regional community theater, featuring talented local actors from all over Starved Rock Country, and this production is no exception. We have actors from Ottawa, from Streator, La Salle, Morris, and Seneca,” said Mary Morgan, WilleyWorld community adviser. “Many are longtime favorites from other area theaters, some are new faces.”
Featured in the cast of local and regional talent from Starved Rock Country are: Walt Willey, Kelly O’Connell Johnson, Christopher Harkins, Joe Bantista, Terry Thompson, Chance Willey, Randy Oltman, Jacob Montgomery, Karly Swords, Deb Torri, Tony Epperson, Darlene Halm, Carol McConville, Brian Rehor, Brandon Miller, Brenda Lynn Smiley, and Steve Stout.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, though Saturday, April 25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Tickets, $20 in advance and $25 at the door, are on sale through the Ottawa Visitors Cente, 815-434-2737, and its website, pickusottawail.com.
Willey serves as Starved Rock Country’s Community Arts Adviser.
“Starved Rock Country celebrates the many local cultures, histories and personalities that make up our wonderful region, and the development and support of the arts are an important part of that,” said John Newby, founder of Starved Rock Country. “Knowing what Mr. Willey and his organization have done in and for this area, we felt that a partnership made sense.”
“I’ve been a very vocal booster of this area for years, and when I became aware of Starved Rock Country’s efforts in that regard, I was excited about what we might do together for the arts in Starved Rock Country,” said Willey. “Developing entertainment and arts possibilities for this area has been the purpose of WWCP from the beginning seven years ago, so it is particularly exciting to have Starved Rock Country as a partner in this mission.”
Willey, and his son Chance, recently relocated to Ottawa to continue this work.