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Local theatergoers could wonder 'Is This Seat Taken?'

WilleyWorld Community Productions soon will stage "Is This Seat Taken?" — a combination of monologues and short plays— its seventh production by the Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre.

The full-length presentation will be presented 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, at the 807 Building Performance Space, 807 La Salle St., Ottawa, above Jeremiah Joe Coffee. Advance tickets will be discounted.

“We’ve been offering the children’s learning theatre concept since fall of 2014, with two instructional sessions and productions per year” said founder and artistic director Walt Willey, known for portraying Jackson Montgomery on ABC’s "All My Children" for almost 25 years.

 
The performance is a fusion of classes and rehearsals that will culminate in a presentation for the public.

“Our seventh production promises to be a fun, funny, family-oriented romp allowing all our student actors to take center stage and work in ensembles," Willey said.

“The student actors have taken to these monologues and really enjoy building the characters. They are particularly excited, because this is our first production featuring the inner life of 'tweens,' so to speak. And it’s not strictly for a younger audience. It’s for, as they say, 'children of all ages.' ”

The Starved Rock Country Children’s Learning Theatre is based on a successful model, a children’s theatre that 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. “We 'graduated' a good many of our original members who had been with us for three years — for every session — just last year. This new group, containing 'veterans' of earlier sessions who take natural leadership roles, is every bit as talented and committed as our original group.”

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 theatre in the Joliet area, works with Willey, assisting with instruction and technical support.

“In addition, we employ accomplished builders, technicians and designers, all of whom contribute to the excellence of our productions,” Willey said.

"Is This Seat Taken?" will feature returning students Oliver Ruvalcaba and Addison Ciesielski, and first-timers Abbey Thumm, Kate Serby, Mylee Meyers, Lillie Hansen, Ivy Cook, Brooklyn Byone and Connor Treest.

Advance tickets are available only online at WaltWilleyWorld.com.

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