Children will experience the joy of theater by becoming part of the performance when the Friends of the Opera House presents “Treasure Island” at 2 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 21, 28 and Feb. 4, at the Stage Left Café, 121 Van Buren St.

Audience members will create the storm at sea, a jungle full of lions and tigers and a treasure cave filled with ghosts.

“[The Friends of the Opera House] felt it was important to do some programming for young audiences,” said Kathie Comella, director of the production.

“Treasure Island,” a participation play, invites children from the audience to become members of Long John Silver’s pirate gang or Captain Smollet’s crew. Volunteers will also help with sound-effect machines. The suggested age for attendees is 5 to 11 for the production that runs for just less than an hour.

Although the set is minimal, there are many interactive props including ropes for children to help pull  up the anchor and a ship’s wheel. The costumed-cast directs the action, but the children can influence the direction the story takes.

“It’s really fun,” said Comella. “You never know what the kids are going to do. They will try to change the outcome.”

The cast of six includes Jeff Cook, Karen Jorgensen Cook, Pam Curtis, Tim Curtis, Isabella Aguilar and Kathie Comella. Following each show, the cast will be available to pose with audience members for photos.

This is the second year Friends of the Opera House has presented “Treasure Island.” With two sold-out performances last year, a third has was added for 2017.

Stage Left must limit the audience size to 75 per performance, so reservations are necessary at 815-338-5300. Ticket prices are $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free.

“They have so much fun,” said Comella. “It was very well-received last year.”

She was surprised to see how many children showed up in costume for the production; however, she advised with a chuckle that this year they will not be allowing anyone on stage with a weapon after experiencing a few overzealous little pirates.

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