• What: "Wiley and the Hairy Man"
• When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4; 2:30 p.m. Sept. 21-22, Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 5-6
• Where: Youth Theatre, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
• Admission: $10
• Phone: 367-8534
• Website: www.TheatreCentre.com
The way Wiley figures it, there's nothing more scary than the Hairy Man.
What he doesn't know is that the only thing he has to fear is fear itself.
In fact, the young boy conquers both in "Wiley and the Hairy Man," which opens the 30th Youth Theatre season at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on Friday, Sept. 20, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 6.
In between, there's a whole lot of spookiness going on, what with the mysterious Tombigbee Swamp, the boy's conjuring mother and the rhythm and rhyme of a mysterious chorus.
The story, written by Susan Zeder, follows young, fatherless Wiley, his mother, his faithful dog and the Hairy Man, who haunts his days and dreams. But through the magic of the earth, the mud of the swamp and Wiley's own wiles, he is able to conquer what he believes is conquering him.
"Wiley and his mother have a good relationship," new Youth Theatre director Scott Dunlap says in a news release. "She leaves him on his own to solve problems, and it builds his independence and confidence. Wiley learns not to be afraid."
The play was previously presented during the 1986-87 and 1998-99 seasons and is being reprised during the CTC's 90th season.
CTC's production has two casts, the Voodoo cast directed by Dunlap and the Mojo cast directed by Rodney Van Valkenburg, the theater's first Youth Theatre program director and now an administrator with ArtsBuild.
Van Valkenburg also directed the theater's first production of "Wiley."
"[The show] represents the great tradition of the Youth Theatre, offering the most outstanding plays written for young audiences," he says. "The play has been performed by professional theater 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."
Dunlap, who performed in Youth Theatre shows under Van Valkenburg, says the new production is spooky "but not over-the-top scary."
"It's fun to be scared," he says. "And 90 percent of the time, the anticipation is more frightening than the event."
"Wiley and the Hairy Man" is suitable for children in grades 3 and up.
"This show is fun for the actors as well as the audience," says Dunlap. "It's classic storytelling; I'm surprised Disney hasn't made it into an animated film."
Contact Clint Cooper at email@example.com or 423-757-6497.