At Area Community Theatre-Ottawa, we have been getting quite a few phone calls lately with Ottawa residents asking, “What’s going on with ACT Ottawa?”  “Why did you cancel the Christmas play?” “When is your next play, and when are auditions?” Here are some answers.

We canceled our Christmas show, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” because, despite many applicants for positions in the cast, we were unable to put together just the right mix of ages and genders to create a believable town population. We had many young girls, but very few adult men, for instance. And several of those who were cast proved unable to attend many rehearsals; practicing with only a partial cast is extremely difficult and counter-productive. We hold high production standards, and decided (a month out from opening) that the likely results would neither please our audiences nor make us proud of the finished product. So we canceled the show, and decided to take a different route to live theatre for the rest of this season.

What we are planning instead is a series of three evenings called “Just Desserts Theatre.” In a twist on dinner theatre, ACT Ottawa board members will play host to as many theater lovers as possible, offering a dessert bar and open reading of a play. Audience members can participate by eating, watching and even joining in, by reading part of the play in a “Reader’s Theatre” setting. It should be fun. The three evening events are planned for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, April 20 and June 15 at the Carnegie Cultural Center, 515 S. Main St., Ottawa.

At next week’s Feb. 16 event, a “Sweetheart Dessert Bar,” we will read Love Letters by A.R. Gurney. This play consists entirely of a series of letters written between two people, starting when they are in the second grade, and spanning their entire lives. One becomes a U.S. Senator, the other, a famous artist. The letters are poignant and humorous.

— Marilyn Pilkey, ACT Ottawa