A Piglet and Spider Took Command of DCPs Armour Street Stage in the Connie Company’s Version of “Charlotte’s Web”
I wonder if E.B. White ever imagined that Wilbur, the darling little piglet he created for Charlotte’s Web, could ever morph into a lovable, graceful, Aranea? Director Wrenn Goodrum knew it could be done and eventually found a way to make it happen.
Years ago, Dr. Goodrum had featured seven-year-old Emerson Bishop as Wilber, the runt from a litter of piggies, in Charlotte’s Web, the first show her company, ACTivate Community through Theatre, produced in North Carolina.
Nearly a decade later, Goodrum cast Emerson, who is now fifteen, in the role of Charlotte, the story’s articulate spider, for a two-week-run on Davidson Community Players’ Connie Company stage, which closed last Sunday evening. Making his leading role debut, eight-year-old Aiden Honeycutt delivered a charming little Wilbur. The precious oinking piglet and the enchanting spinning spider delighted audiences with their loving interplay.
Many stage versions have emerged out of E.B. White’s beloved classic tale, and Goodrum has her own adaptations. Instead of a narrator’s commentary to keep the storyline on track, Goodrum selected three delightful Southern young ladies all dressed up during afternoon tea to read passages from their copies of the book, Charlotte’s Web. Isabel Cevallos played Bertha, Lady One. Libby Rhea’s name was Beulah, Lady Two, and Jewel Caceres played Beatrice, Lady Three.
Not that the story needed to be told. The ever popular Charlotte’s Web is the second of three children’s novels, the well-known essayist/writer published in 1952. Stuart Little, the story about a mouse who lives with a family in New York City came out in 1945, and later, The Trumpet of the Swan was published in 1970.
Everyone recognizes White’s beloved characters. Both adults who grew up with them and children were thrilled to see their favorite critters cavorting around the barnyards, decked out in gorgeous costumes designed by Beth Killion. The outspoken, sneaky rat Templeton, played by Luke Tyrell, led the way.
Charlotte’s Web opened as young Fern Arable, played by Emerson Adams, begs her parents John and Martha Arable, performed by Bryant Webb and Brookelyn Schauf, not to sell the tiny piglet. Fern’s brother Avery, played by Caleb Urbanek, concurred. So, Wilbur was sent to live at the farm of Homer and Edith Zuckerman, played by Carson Jacobus and Kathleen White. Lurvy, performed by Kohen Hamlin, was their assistant.
Snobby Little Lamb, played by Brooke Mottesheard, and her friend the Sheep, performed by Kaia Goodpasture, dropped by the barns to offer their critique. The Gander, played by Bryant Grey, and the Goose, performed by Samantha Kaplan, waddled over to play with Wilbur.
The costumes designed for the four little Spiders that hatched at the end were outstanding and so were the little actors who performed many additional roles. Millie Mitchell played Spider One; Penelope Tew, Spider Two; Caroline Mottesheard, Spider Three; and Aryana Berisha, Spider Four.
Paige King played Spectator One and Judge. Evelyn Tew had the roles of Spectator Two and Fairgoer. Anna Parsons was also a Judge, Spectator, and Fair Seller. Emma Wood had the role of Announcer at the Fair, and JP Yurina played Uncle.
DCPs Connie Company production of Charlotte’s Web had excellent technical support, including barnyard sounds, lighting designed by Alex Corbett, and the story’s essential projection designs by Helen Erikson.
Any chance more adorable furry and feathered little creatures might return to the Armour Street stage? Maybe not again this year. But DCPs Connie Company has something else in mind. A musical, Elf Jr, is scheduled to open early in November.
I’ll surely want to go. I love to watch young thespians play out their talents and grow up on the stage.