‘Charlotte’s Web’: Family tale is well spun with capable cast, clever costuming

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LEWISTON – King’s Bridge Theatre has succeeded again. Its current production of “Charlotte’s Web” is an excellent family show, and there are three more chances to get caught up in it on April 30 and May 1.

“Charlotte’s Web” is the story of Wilbur, a runt pig born on a small farm, who is saved from an early ham-and-bacon future by friendships, loyalty and sacrifice.

Extraordinary volunteer support in both production and acting brings this classic story to life for audiences of all ages. I must call attention, for example, to the show’s excellent and extensive costuming — for a pig, a spider, a rat, geese, a sheep and a lamb, as well as farm families, county fairgoers, reporters and others.

CarlaRose Dubois is costume designer. She and her team, including Sarah Bly and Cindy, Emily and Hannah Wardwell, came up with imaginative outfits for all.

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The cast includes award-winning actors, several veterans who’ve performed on stages around the area and youngsters making their first appearances. It’s hard to tell the difference, thanks to the capable work done by all.

In this show, artistic director Robbi Starnegg has achieved one of KBT’s goals — “to tell good stories well.”

Presentations of KBT, a nonprofit faith-based group, are not just children’s shows. It has also done “Sister Calling My Name” and “Joseph’s Room.”

Emma Curtis, a third-grader in Litchfield, makes her acting debut in “Charlotte’s Web” as Fern, the young girl whose friendship sustains and teaches Wilbur through his trials. It’s a demanding role, and she comes through with charm and talent that foretells a promising future on the stage.

Ellen Peters is Charlotte, the barn spider whose messages woven into her web tell the world that Wilbur is “Some Pig” who is worthy of attention and acclaim. Peters gives the role just the right measure of sincerity and honesty. She never sugarcoats such themes as facing the realities of life and death.

Peters is a local stage veteran. She played the title role in “Medea,” a recent production of Lewiston’s Out of the Box Theater which won a Moss Hart Award.

John Wardwell, 14, is some actor as Wilbur. He takes Wilbur from naive newborn piglet to county fair medal winner with skill and believability. He appeared in King’s Bridge Theatre’s “Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Zachery Powell plays Templeton, the barn rat, with appropriate style and swagger. A senior at Lewiston High School, he also appeared in recent KBT shows.

The goose and gander, with their triple-talk patterns, are portrayed delightfully by Lynda J. Nailer and Mike Wright. He also appears as Uncle, a really big pig.

Other fine performances are delivered by Charles Clark as farmer Zuckerman, Garrett Crawford as hired hand Lurvy, and Patricia Phillips and Meredith Crawford as the sheep and lamb.

Excellent support is given by Marcel Dubois and Angela Gagne as the Arables, and Josh Kaiser as their live-wire son. Linda Sherwood is Edith Zuckerman and others in the cast are Michelle Davidson, CarlaRose DuBois, David Pacileo, Robert Nailor, Connor Crawford, Gavin Crawford, Emily Wardwell, Hannah Wardwell, Sarah Lopez, Dan Crawford, Maddy Leslie, Mia-Angelina Leslie and Aliyah Gagne.

There is also a well-done lobby exhibit with rabbits in cages and a variety of county fair exhibit items.

“Charlotte’s Web” was adapted for stage by Joseph Robinette from E.B. White’s classic 1952 novel for children and adults. White was inspired to write the story while living on his Maine farm. He is an acclaimed American author whose lessons in clear and concise writing are known to students and storytellers everywhere.

In “Charlotte’s Web,” and in this stage adaptation, there is no concession to simplifying the language or writing down for children. It’s obviously not necessary because many toddlers and young people laughed with delight at the antics in this fine presentation.

Remaining shows

WHAT: “Charlotte’s Web”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1; and 2 p.m. Saturday (no Sunday shows)

WHERE: Pathway Vineyard Auditorium, 23 Foss Road near the Lisbon town line

FOR TICKETS: Call 784-9500 or go online to www.kingsbridgetheatre.org

Zachary Powell plays Templeton, the barn rat, and Ellen Peters portrays Charlotte, the barn spider, in the King’s Bridge Theatre production of “Charlotte’s Web.” The show will be performed Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1.

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