Joseph Robinette’s "Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland" will be WilleyWorld Community Productions' third play by the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater.
Performances of the one-act play will begin 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13, at the 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa, above Jeremiah Joe Coffee. General admission will be $10.
“The children’s learning theater concept is something we’d been developing for a couple of years and launched last fall,” said Ottawa's Walt Willey, Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater founder and artistic director, who is perhaps best known for portraying Jackson Montgomery on ABC’s "All My Children" for almost 25 years.
“It is a fusion of classes and rehearsals culminating in a presentation for the public. Our previous productions have been huge hits with sellout crowds — great performances, wonderful attendance, and really gratifying feedback. I would get my tickets in advance just to be safe.”
Based on a successful model — a children’s theater that Willey’s son, Chance, attended in Santa Fe, N.M. — the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater serves students from first through sixth grades in Starved Rock Country.
“I saw firsthand how a program like this helped young people,” Willey said. “I watched as these kids developed skills, confidence, appreciation for the arts and process, and friendships with other like-minded young people that lasted for years.”
Willey, who has made his living as an actor, writer and producer for more than 30 years — and serves as Starved Rock Country’s Community Arts Adviser — teaches the classes, conducts the rehearsals and is directing the production.
“I take a very 'hands on' approach to this,” Willey said. “Karly Swords, an Ottawa Township High School drama student who has worked with me on other productions (most recently as Nurse Flinn in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest') assists, and we employ accomplished builders, technicians and designers, all of whom contribute to the excellence of our productions.”
“We picked this show as our third production for many reasons. The very notion of putting Dorothy, and all her friends; the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion in the same space as Alice and her band; Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Dormouse, Mock Turtle and Cheshire Cat, and then adding their nemeses, the Wicked Witch and Red Queen, is just too much fun. And we have a terrific group of student actors who are really bringing it.
“Dorothy Meets Alice is, by far, our most ambitious project. The production values are going to be topnotch,” Willey said. “The costumes are tremendous and we have constructed a tree where the Cheshire Cat lives that just has to be seen.”
"Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland" will feature Zander Dziedzic, Maera Jimenez, Gwendolyn Jimenez, Emma Gerkitz, Ally Fleming, Ainsley Leonard, Kasey Dose, Madeline Sanders, Duncan Osmund, all of Ottawa; Streator residents Danielle Sheppard, Alea Ogle and Abby Mascal; and Charlotte Ceja, La Salle.
Sponsors include the Ottawa Visitors Center, Starved Rock Country, Jeremiah Joe Coffee, Bill Walsh Automotive, Ottawa Dance Academy, and Illinois Office Supply.
- WILLEYWORLD COMMUNITY PRODUCTIONS will present "Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland," Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater production.
- PERFORMANCES WILL BEGIN 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and Sunday, Dec. 13, at 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa
- TICKETS WILL BE $10 for general admission at the Ottawa Visitors Center, 106 W. Lafayette St., by phone at 815-434-2737, online at pickusottawail.com, or at the door.