RUMFORD — E.B. White’s charming children’s literary classic, “Charlotte’s Web,” came to life Thursday night during a dress rehearsal of the play’s second act at 49 Franklin’s Mystic Theater.

A few of the Paper Moon Players in the cast of 16 were absent, but director Keith Grassette and assistant directors Carmen DiConzo and Hope Fallon skillfully cued and steered the adult and child performers.

“I’m very pleased tonight. I think we’re going to have a very charming show,” Grassette said.

Scot Grassette, who owns 49 Franklin with his wife, Cindy, built a nearly 10-foot tall barn where the action in Joseph Robinette’s play takes place.

Scot Grassette said the barn, which changes color three times for each set of acts, is a set of staging on wheels.

Grassette said it was his brother’s decision to have the nearly 90-minute play performed this spring at 49 Franklin. “It was one of his favorite books as a child.”

“It is a moving play,” Keith Grassette said. “It is a very moving story of friendship.”

“Mostly, that’s what it’s about,” Scot Grassette added. And that’s how it came across when the dialog, animated gestures, sound effects and spider puppets were in synch and the story flowed along without line prompts or missed cues.

The performers bring to life the heartwarming story about an irresistible young pig, played by Amara Aiken, and the friendships she makes with her fellow barnyard animals and Fern Arable, played by Virginia Owings as the young girl who understands what the animals are saying to each other.

Templeton, the gluttonous rat who gets talked into doing some good deeds, is played by Sean Young; the Zuckerman family is portrayed by Eric Schmersal, Jan Peaslee and Jacob True; the Arable family is played by Scot Grassette, Rebecca Robichaud, Brayden Duguay and Owings; and the play’s namesake, Charlotte the spider, is portrayed by Jillian Conant.

Other characters include Jen Foster as the fair announcer, Lisa Picard as narrator, Anthony MacDonald as the rooster, Casey Saisi as the goose, Lily True and Marissa LaPointe as the sheep, Gabby Mohrlant as the cat, and Jade Kubic as the cow.

At the rehearsal, Keith Grassette repeatedly stressed to the children playing animals that they should not back up when moving to positions to deliver their next lines. He said backing up looks unnatural.

And then, later on when Wilbur is supposed to awaken Templeton, Amara, dressed in a cute pig outfit, misunderstood Keith Grassette’s instruction to simulate kicking Templeton in the rump.

While talking to Templeton, she walked over and kicked him right in the knee, prompting a trip to the stage by Grassette to better illustrate the pig’s simulated kick.

“We would like to avoid casualties on the set,” he said.

The children redid the scene a few times until they performed it to Grassette’s delight.

“Next week is what we call ‘Hell Week,’ because we practice every day,” Scot Grassette said. “This is probably the most even mix of children and adults we’ve had.”

The show will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Doors will open an hour before the show for seating, socializing and cash-only theater snacks. Tickets are $15 and available at Downtown Rumford, Bartash’s and All That Jazz, and online at

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