21 Jan 2016
Children's theater sessions begin Feb. 6, 2016
The Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater will begin its spring session Saturday, Feb. 6, with a presentation to the public scheduled for mid-April.
“The children’s learning theater concept is a fusion of classes and rehearsals culminating in a presentation for the public.” said Walt Willey, perhaps best known for portraying “Jackson Montgomery” on ABC’s All My Children for almost 25 years, and more recently for his portrayal of “Wild Bill” Hickok in his one-man show and on the TV series "Gunslingers."The Ottawa native founded the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater in 2014 as part of his WilleyWorld Community Productions.
Based on a children’s learning theater that Willey’s son, Chance, attended in Santa Fe, N.M., the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater will serve students from grades 1 through 6.
“I saw firsthand how a program like this helped young people,” explained Willey. “I watched these kids develop skills, confidence, appreciation for the arts and process, and friendships with other like-minded young people that lasted for years. It’s been very heartening to see those same things happening here over our first three sessions.”
Those sessions produced the productions "All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Play," "The Monsters Under the Bed" and December’s "Dorothy Meets Alice or the Wizard of Wonderland."
“Our previous sessions were very successful,” added Willey. “We have had some extremely talented young people who’ve worked very hard – and evidently enjoyed themselves. Many of them have attended every session. We’ve had such great community support and we’re very excited that this program has become a staple for young actors in the area.”
“One of my passions is teaching acting, which I’ve done — on and off — since the mid-1980s,” noted Willey.
“Another passion of mine, as many know, is bringing the theater arts to area high school students. Our mission at the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater is to expand this opportunity to even younger children,” explained Willey, who serves as Starved Rock Country’s community arts adviser.
Willey, who has made his living as an actor/writer/producer for more than 30 years, will be teaching the classes, conducting the rehearsals and directing the production for the public.
“I’m taking a very 'hands-on' approach to this,” Willey said. “As we’ve grown, we’ve employed accomplished assistants, technicians and scenic designers, which have contributed to the excellence of our instruction and productions, and the success of this program.”
The sessions will begin Saturday, Feb. 6, at Ottawa Dance Academy, 725 Fulton St. in Ottawa. After the initial orientation, classes/rehearsals will meet 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Saturday rehearsals will be added mid-March..
Space will be limited. For information and registration, call the Ottawa Dance Academy at 815-434-5308, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.