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​No ordinary pig or spider: “Charlotte’s Web” on stage

by Brittney Goodman | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Theatre | November 9th, 2016

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.” – Charlotte to Wilbur, “Charlotte’s Web”

A theatrical adaptation of the beloved children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web,” is coming to Sheyenne High School in West Fargo on November 18 and 19 on the Main Stage. The playwright Joseph Robinette adapted the cherished tale in 1983. The playwright also has theatrical adaptations of “The Paper Chase,” “Anne of Green Gables,” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in his writing credits.

The play brings out themes of friendship, trust, bravery and loyalty through the interaction of Wilbur the pig and Charlotte, a gray spider. This production is approximately 80 minutes long and features students from the high school, grades 9-12.

Hannah Amundson, a new English teacher at Sheyenne High School, is directing the production with the assistance of other Sheyenne teachers, and Adam Pankow, Director of Theatre, is producing it. This is Hannah’s first year of teaching, after graduating from Concordia College and student teaching under Pankow, and she is “excited to be working on this production.”

Earlier in the season, the Sheyenne High School delivered “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Upcoming Sheyenne High School Theatre offerings for this season include “Storybook Breakfast” in December and “The Phantom of the Opera” in February 2017.

Adam is grateful for Hannah’s work on the production: “In the past I have done double duty with both the producer and director duties, so it’s nice to have someone to share the artistic responsibilities with. Hannah is doing an excellent job—I’m happy she is a part of our team of theatre professionals.”

Adam is a West Fargo native, a graduate of West Fargo High School, and continued his education at Concordia in Theatre Arts and at MSUM in English Education. Before he began his teaching and directing career in West Fargo, he worked for a variety of professional and community theatres around the country as an actor, technician, and director. “Theatre, particularly educational theatre, has been a significant part of my life since I performed in my first show with the Gooseberry Park Players in the summer of 1993.”

“Charlotte’s Web” is a much-read, familiar book. Hannah says that the play keeps to the spirit and intent of the book, and notes that even E.B. White, who wrote the book, agreed. She elaborates: “The play has kept all the loveable parts of the book – the unlikely friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur, Wilbur’s unrelenting optimism, the greedy rat Templeton, and the honest discussion of mortality. The joy, hope, and sadness in the book are all present in the play. When the audience sees it, I hope they feel like they got to see Wilbur and Charlotte come alive and experience their story.”

Adam says this adaptation of the book “does a wonderful job” of being true to the “heart of the original novel, while making the story possible for the stage.” He explains that this is not a musical but a straight play adaptation, “so words are our most significant tool for telling the story and getting our point across.” Furthermore, he says, “In a way, that parallels the character of Charlotte herself,” as she “must also find the right words to communicate her message. Words are really quite powerful, and the authors have embraced that in this adaptation approved by E.B. White himself.” And, if any of you did not know this, E.B. White co-wrote one of the most read books on clear, effective writing -- “The Elements of Style” -- which has been much used in college composition classes.

Ultimately, this production should resonate with audiences on an emotional level. Hannah says that audiences should “be ready for a sweet little show that will make you laugh and pull on your heartstrings.” Adam says, “This will be a colorful, fast-paced production that will be a delight for the whole family. We look forward to the laughter and reactions of everyone, but especially of the little voices that are in attendance.”

IF YOU GO:

Charlotte’s Web Sheyenne High School, 800 40th Ave E, West Fargo 

November 18, 7pm; November 19, 10am & 2pm Tickets: 

$8 adults, $6 students 

www.WestFargoTheatre.com, or call 701-499-3237

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