In recent years, Proscenium Circus has presented a number of well-acted shows – The Laramie Project and Our Town, to name two — that were not marketed as being appropriate for all ages. Even last fall’s rendition of Robin Hood had a disclaimer attached to its publicity: the sword fighting is realistic, and may frighten young children.
There is no such warning accompanying the high school theater group’s current production of Charlotte’s Web. The well-known story is told in a delightful, fast-paced manner. There exist moments of sadness as the characters confront their own mortality, and elements of danger are ever-present, but these are balanced with equal measures of glee and humor.
Proscenium Circus head Linda Potter chose the show with a particular audience in mind, then hired Brett Marks to cast and direct it.
“We are developing the next generation of theater goers,” said Potter. What better to show them than one of the best-loved children’s books of all times?”
Taking the stage as Wilbur is PC veteran Ryan LaForest. His portrayal of the naïve little pig with the big personality is charming.
Wilbur’s young savior, the sweet Fern, is played beautifully by newcomer Eleanor Tolley.
Hannah Dawson’s graceful, purposeful interpretation of Charlotte is captivating.
Many scenes are noteworthy, but those involving Kyla Sandock’s Goose and Robbie Ringwall’s Gander are among the most memorable.
Templeton, the reluctant accomplice to Charlotte during her mission to save Wilbur, was portrayed giftedly by Jesse Waks.
Last Saturday afternoon’s young audience members were intently focused on the stage during the performance. When it appeared that Fern had lost her bid to save young Wilbur, the viewers gasped.
Later, when Fern left Wilbur all alone in the barn at the farm, the auditorium fell silent as the gravity of the situation was felt.
Laughter broke out often, most notably when Homer Zuckerman, played by David Nicholson, and Lurvey, played by Matthew Larson, captured the despondent, uncooperative Wilbur and forced him to take medicine.
Marks said that he is “filled with joy about the final product. “The design, from set to costumes, lights to sound, props to makeup, all came together so strongly with the character work of the cast.They really create a magical experience for the kids.”
Rebeka Mendelsohn, 11, attended the show with a friend.
“I thought it was really cute and really well done. It represented the story well,” she said.
Kyla Callison, 9, agreed. “I thought it was really good and really funny! The sets made it real. They were really in a barn and they were really at a fair.”
“I could tell that Templeton was being Templeton,” Kyla, who has read Charlotte’s Web, said.
One little girl knew nothing about the plot or characters before attending the performance. But her mom, Katie Duhamel, said that her five-year-old daughter was “dying to come see it.” The reason: the youngster saw her own name, Charlotte, on the sandwich boards around town.
Big brother Colin, 7, couldn’t pinpoint the best part of the show.
“It’s a hard decision because I liked all of it,” he said.
There are three performances of Charlotte’s Web remaining: Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 3, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. All shows will be held in the ABRHS auditorium. Tickets are $10 for the matinee and $12 for the evening shows and are available at Roche Bros., Red White and Brew Market, and at the ticket table at the school starting two hours before each show. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain.
There will be a bonus for those attending Friday night’s show. E. B. White’s grandniece will be attending! She will be speaking to the cast and anyone who would like to stay after the show and will be making a special presentation at that time.