WilleyWorld Community Productions, in conjunction with OmniArts, will put on "Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree," the fifth production by the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre.
The one-act play — a holiday-themed comedy mashup of classic fables and favorite Christmas tales — will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11 at the 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa. General admission will be $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
“We’ve been offering the children’s learning theater concept since fall of 2014, with two instructional sessions and productions per year,” said founder and artistic director Willey, who portrayed Jackson Montgomery on ABC’s "All My Children" for almost 25 years, in a press statement. “It is a fusion of classes and rehearsals culminating in a presentation for the public. Our fifth production, 'Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree,' promises to be a fun, funny, family-oriented way to celebrate the season."
The production is based on the model of a children’s theatre Willey’s son, Chance, attended in Santa Fe, N.M.
“I saw firsthand how a program like this helped young people develop skills, confidence, appreciation for the arts and process, and friendships with other like-minded young people that lasted for years — right into adulthood for many,” said Willey in a statement.
“The vast majority of our student actors have been with us since the beginning, which has been an incredible advantage for them; the difference between attending a 'seminar' and a dedicated multi-year program.”
Willey, who has made his living as an actor, writer, and producer for more than 30 years, teaches the classes, conducts the rehearsals and is directing the production.
“I take a very hands on approach to this,” Willey said.
Devon Ford, with a background in children’s theater in the Joliet-area who has worked with Willey on other productions, assists with instruction and technical support. Student actor Alea Ogle serves as Willey’s assistant as part of the internship/mentorship program offered to advanced students.
“In addition, we employ accomplished builders, technicians and designers, all of whom contribute to the excellence of our productions,” said Willey.
“We wanted to do a holiday-themed show for the first time, and the kids love these one-act plays that are a collection of skits that allow them to play many characters. There’s music and singing — even some rapping. It’s a high-energy holiday romp with some solid life lessons as part of the fun,” said Willey.
"Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree" will feature Emma Gerkitz, Zander Dziedzic, Maera Jimenez, Gwendalynn Jimenez, Ally Fleming, Ainsley Leonard, Kasey Dose, Leiya Reilly, Paisley Smith, Oliver Ruvalcaba, all of Ottawa; Streator residents Alea Ogle, Helena Ogle, Abby Mascal; Addison Ciesielski, Marseilles, and Neva Morris, Morris.
"Working with these talented young people of Starved Rock Country is an absolute joy,” said Willey. “As always, we could not do this work without the support of our sponsors: OmniArts, Jeremiah Joe Coffee, Bill Walsh Automotive and Illinois Office Supply.”
- WHAT: "Aesop’s Fable-ous Christmas Tree"
- WHEN: 2 p.m.: Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11
- WHERE: 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa
- TICKETS: General admission, $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Tickets available only online at WaltWilleyWorld.com.