4 Apr 2016
WilleyWorld headquarters now in 807 Building
WilleyWorld Community Productions is in partnership with The 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa, to establish a new, downtown home for both WilleyWorld Community Productions and the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre, as well as a venue for educational/entertainment opportunities for Ottawa and Starved Rock Country.
“It’s been very difficult, trying to develop a theater without a dedicated space to rehearse, store set pieces, costumes, and props and perform,” said Walt Willey, founder of both WilleyWorld Community Productions and the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre, in a press release. “We’ve had to rehearse in one place, build set pieces in another and store our set pieces and building materials in yet another. It really hindered our growth.”
Willey said his productions have been "lucky to have the 807 Building Performance Space" as the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre's "home court" for performances since the inception of the group, and said it fortunate for WilleyWorld Community Productions to be able to move smaller shows to this venue.
"Having a dedicated downtown venue is exactly what we need to expand our seasons and our services to the community," Willey said.
“We presented a very successful run of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest' in April of 2015 at the 807 Building as an experiment. We saw it could work for us and plan to have a production in this space in the fall. I’ve been hoping to develop a dramatics summer camp program for the children’s theater, and this partnership will afford us that opportunity as well."
The owners of the 807 Building were excited to enter into the partnership.
“The performing arts are an integral part of a thriving community,” noted Dewayne Cronkright, manager of the 807 Building Performance Space. “Ottawa has long needed a venue for our community’s artists to perform, our youth to develop their talents, and our citizens to enjoy the performing arts. We are pleased to partner with Walt and his theater groups to this end.”
Willey added: “Especially exciting is the opportunity to develop a theater and performance space in Ottawa’s bustling downtown. To be a part of the excitement going on here will be wonderful indeed.”
Willey, best known for portraying Jackson Montgomery on the television soap opera "All My Children" for more than 20 years, has plans to bring musical acts and smaller touring shows to this venue to further expand entertainment options for the area.
“What a wonderful evening or afternoon: to have a meal or coffee at one of our terrific spots and then catch a show — and never have to move your car.”
The first production of the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theater’s 2016 season will be its presentation of "Storyville," 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24. The group has plans for a fall production and a summer program for 2017. WilleyWorld Community Productions is in pre-production on two shows for this performance space.