Don't risk standing-room only for the latest WilleyWorld Community Productions/Starved Rock Country Children's Learning Theatre play "Is This Seat Taken?"
Founded by TV and stage actor Walt Willey, the children's learning theatre troupe features young, local talent and will stage this monologue- and one-act-play production at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, at the 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa.
Ottawa native Willey explained the gist of the play named for the first of nine monologues presented; reminding audience members of a "packed" house where excited theatre attendees are hoping to find an open seat.
"The monologues and short plays presented are a very funny but insightful look at that mysterious child referred to as a tween," he said. "In the monologues, we visit issues of school; the fear of not being accepted by your peers, the plight of the student who is so dedicated to his interests outside of school that his in-school life is affected are touched upon in a lighthearted way.
"We also explore the know-it-all who wants to do everything herself, the student trying to get out of class by conning the school nurse, and the elaborate rationalizations voiced when a girl is asked to clean her room," he said.
Meet some of the actors
ABBEY THUMM is a 13-year-old from Ottawa. She has been with the learning theatre for one year and has acted in several local plays.
"I play a teenager dealing with the ups and downs of puberty. I’m a girl and a teenager so this character I’m perfect to play. This play is showing everyday life of all age groups and it shows you can get through anything with laughter and having fun," Thumm said.
OLIVER RUVALCABA is a 12-year-old also from Ottawa. He has been with the learning theatre for three years and also has performed in several local productions.
Ruvalcaba shared a bit of insight into one of the play's scenes wherein a boy learns his guardian angel is a small, fluffy-tailed animal.
"One of my roles, as Kyle, is a boy who has absolutely no idea how to approach his challenge and succeed, and I think that sometimes, personally, I stop myself in the middle of something I don't fully understand, and I reach out for help (but not from a talking squirrel)," he joked.
"When you need help, don't take advice from a squirrel," he added.
ADDISON CIESIELSKI is an 11-year-old from Marseilles. She has been involved with the theatre for four sessions.
"In my monologue, my character is getting ready for a sleepover and can't decide what to wear. She wants to be cool and fit in. I think everyone my age tries to fit in," Ciesielski said.
She also offered advice for kids of all ages.
"Be yourself! Don't try to be someone else to make someone like you."
Willey added some thoughts on the cast and how pleased he is with the learning theatre in general.
"Giving these talented, artistically inclined young people from all over Starved Rock Country a chance to have a place to thrive, to grow in their art with others of the same like — in a judgment-free and supportive setting, is a wonderful thing to behold, believe me. I saw it in my son's theatre group when he was growing up, and I, gratefully, see it here," Willey said.
GET YOUR SEAT!
WHAT: "Is This Seat Taken?"
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29
WHERE: 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa.
TICKETS: General Admission, $10 in advance, $15 at the door, available only online at: WaltWilleyWorld.com.