The spooky tale Wiley and the Hairy Man opens the 30th Youth Theatre season at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Friday.
Review for Wiley and the Hairy Man:
Written by Susan Zeder, Wiley and the Hairy Man follows a young, fatherless boy named Wiley, his conjure-woman mother, his faithful dog, and the Hairy Man who haunts Wiley’s days and dreams. Through rhythm and rhyme, a chorus creates the mystery of the swamp. The magic of this play is not fairy dust – it is soil: the magic of the earth and mud of the swamp…the magic of survival. At last, in an exciting duel of wits, Wiley learns to rely upon his own resources and conquers two villains: the Hairy Man and his own fear.
The play features two casts – one (the ‘Voodoo’ cast) is directed by Youth Theatre director Scott Dunlap; the second (the ‘Mojo’ cast) is directed by Rodney Van Valkenburg. This production is the first from the Youth Theatre since 10-year CTC veteran Mr. Dunlap took over the job this summer. Mr. Van Valkenburg, now with ArtsBuild, was the Theatre Centre’s first Youth Theatre program director when it began in 1983. Mr. Van Valkenburg served as youth theatre and education director for 12 of the 18 years he worked at the CTC. Mr. Dunlap was one of the young actors who once performed in Mr. Van Valkenburg’s shows.
Mr. Dunlap says Wiley and the Hairy Man is scary "but not over-the-top scary" and he estimates that kids in third grade and above should be fine. "It’s fun to be scared," he says. "And 90 percent of the time the anticipation is more frightening than the event."
"Wiley and his mother have a good relationship," explains Mr. Dunlap. "She leaves him on his own to solve problems, and it builds his independence and confidence. Wiley learns not to be afraid."
"Wiley and the Hairy Man represents the great tradition of the Youth Theatre offering the most outstanding plays written for young audiences," said Mr. Van Valkenburg. "The play has been performed by professional theatre companies for many years and our young actors are again up to the challenge of presenting an excellent production to be enjoyed by young and old alike."
"I directed Wiley the first time it was produced at the CTC in 1986-87 and I am very pleased to revisit this great play with amazing casts of young actors," said Van Mr. Valkenburg. The show was also part of the 1998-99 Youth Theatre Season.
"This show is fun for the actors as well as the audience," says Mr. Dunlap. "It’s classic storytelling; I’m surprised Disney hasn’t made it into an animated film."
Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for all ages, all performances, and are available online at TheatreCentre.com or by calling the box office at 267-8534 Tuesday-Friday between 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Chattanooga Theatre Centre, a community theatre celebrating 90 years of continuous operation this season, is at 400 River St. next to Coolidge Park. The Chattanooga Theatre Centre is a funded agency of ArtsBuild.
Performance Dates are Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22, at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, at 2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 6 at 2:30 p.m. School shows will be Thursday, Oct. 3, at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.