All My Children Actors star in "The Odd Couple"

July 20, 2009 9:50:07 AM PDT
Walt Willey (All My Children's "Jackson Montgomery") returns to his hometown to present Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, with Jill Larson (All My Children's "Opal Cortlandt"), and Kim "Howard" Johnson (John Cleese's Personal Best) at the Ottawa High School auditorium. Willey and Johnson are also be launching the WilleyWorld Community Productions' mentorship program. Willey, native of Ottawa, and better known to some as "Jackson Montgomery" from the long-running hit daytime television show All My Children, will be starring as "Felix Ungar." Joining Willey is Kim "Howard" Johnson, noted Monty Python diarist and chronicler and improvisational actor. Johnson will be playing the role of "Oscar Madison." In the role of one of the delightful "Pigeon Sisters" is Jill Larson, who has played the part of the beloved "Opal Cortlandt" on the daytime drama All My Children for almost twenty years.

This play, produced by WilleyWorld Community Productions is, scheduled to open on Friday, July 24, will run on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26. The Odd Couple is the opening event for the City of Ottawa's Riverfest (www.cityofottawa.org/riverfest.htm ). The community festival runs from July 24 through July 26 and continues Wednesday, July 29 through August 2. Willey and Johnson will be honored as Grand Marshals in the Riverfest parade on Sunday, August 2.

A working actor in film and television and on stage for almost 30 years, Willey is returning to his hometown area and his theatre roots to develop a self-sustaining community theatre for the Ottawa community and a mentorship program for youths in the Ottawa area, along with best friend Kim "Howard" Johnson, also an Ottawa native. Their former high school teacher Mary (Fennessey) Morgan is their local advisor and will be playing the role of the other "Pigeon Sister" in The Odd Couple.

Johnson is the definitive chronicler of "Monty Python", and has taught and directed improvisational comedy in Chicago and Santa Barbara, California. A longtime improvisational actor, Howard appeared in the Monty Python film Life of Brian and John Cleese's Personal Best on A&E; he has also performed with Chicago's ImprovOlympic, and on-stage locally with Ottawa Community Players and Stage 212 .

Larson has played the endearing "Opal Cortlandt" on All My Children" for almost twenty years and has been rewarded with two Emmy nominations. Jill is also known from her portrayal of "Ursula Blackwell" on One Life to Live. A regional and off-Broadway theatre favorite, Larson recently worked with Martin Scorsese in his upcoming feature film Ashcliffe.

Local favorites joining the cast are Andy Decker as "Murray", Lloyd Chapman as "Vinnie", Steve Myers as "Roy" and Steve Johnson as "Speed". Sue Williamson, with assistance from Sally Hocking, is directing. Dave Keely built the set that was designed and lit by OHS alumni Adam Rowe and Travis Hagenbuch. Rowe has designed sets for the hit television show Mad Men and Hagenbuch has designed the lighting for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.

"Both heard about what we were doing and offered to help out. We are so fortunate to have them aboard," Willey noted.

Performances will be at Ottawa Township High School, but tickets are available exclusively from the Ottawa Visitors Center, (www.experienceottawa.com) located nearby at 100 W. Lafayette St. For information, call 1-888-OTTAWA-4 (688292) or (815) 434-2737. A mentorship program is part of WilleyWorld Community Productions. Beginning with The Odd Couple, students from OHS will serve on the props crew, run the concessions, and be a part of the building crew. OHS student Drew Coveyou is serving as the production's "reader", filling in during the rehearsal period. Willey and Johnson will be offering seminars at OHS next year and have plans to bring writers and actors in from New York and Los Angeles for one-person shows and interaction with local students. "The chances for us becoming a self-sustaining community theatre within two years get better and better the more community support and involvement we have", Willey remarked. "And offering this opportunity to young people interested in this industry helps ensure our success for years to come." For more information, visit www.willeyworld.com or www.experienceottawa.com


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