By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor
I know most of you have read the book and seen the movie, but you haven’t really experienced the full radiance of the E.B. White story of Charlotte and her magical web until you see this delectable production of “Charlotte’s Web” at Imagination Stage. You will get to know Wilbur, a charismatic pig who just wants a friend, the silly goose, the moody sheep, the selfish rat, and the selfless Charlotte, who, in order to save Wilbur’s life, weaves flattering messages into her web that cause a sensation in the nearby farming town. You will also meet and fall in love with Fern, the child who first saves Wilbur from death because he is the runt of the litter, the Zuckermans, who feed and house Wilbur, Fern’s family, and all the rest of the characters you’ve read about in one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time. That should be enough, right? But wait, there’s more…
Charlotte, the spider, is embodied by Shanara Gabrielle. She will enchant you and your children with her aerial silk work, her lovely singing voice, and her take-charge stage presence. But her expertise in aerial silks–hanging high in the air upside down and dropping in a spider-like whoosh on her silks–brings the story to life in a clever and unexpectedly graphic way. Wilbur, the hapless pig, who is at first cuddly and naïve, grows older and wiser and finds a friend he would gladly die for through the lovely work of actor, Timotheus German.
The total of six first-rate actors (some playing multiple roles) who play other humans and barnyard animals in this production include those mentioned above plus Moira Todd as the adorable Fern; Jonathan Feuer as the alternately mean and helpful Templeton, the rat; Javier del Pilar as Avery and others; and Matthew Schleigh whom you may have seen (and I loved!) as the Red Queen in the recent “Wonderland, Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure” as Homer, the geese, and a bevy of other characters.
Deborah Jacobson, the show’s music director, provides beautiful live music during the show and weaves classical themes and folk tunes into the fabric of the show to create an all-inclusive atmosphere. All the characters sing and many play instruments too! This production is imaginatively directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer. Other members of the superb creative team include Andrew Cohen, sets; Sarah Tundermann, lights; Joseph Payne, sound; Robert Croghan, costumes; Madison Bahr, stage manager; and Shanara Gabrielle, movement director.
“Charlotte’s Web” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and put a lump in your throat. It’s absolutely magical and will be a perfect holiday treat for everyone on your list or in your home! Finally, E.B. White said that this is the story of “life, love, salvation and friendship.” But as Charlotte wrote, “Wilbur is Some Pig!”
Ticket, Performance and Parking Information: www.imaginationstage.org; Recommended for ages 5+