E.B. White’s children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” comes alive in Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s “Charlotte’s Web,” running from Nov. 15 – 24. At the Nov. 9 dress rehearsal, 41 cast members, ages 8 to 17, put on an entertaining show about an anxiety-ridden pig named Wilbur who worried about being slaughtered.
“The story is about friendship,” said Trisha Cooley, Choreographer and Assistant Producer of the show. “The whole ending line was Wilbur talking about how Charlotte was such a good friend. There is one number called ‘Who Says We Can’t Be Friends.’ It’s about friends who might have differences among each other, but who says they can’t be friends. There’s a line from the script that says, ‘You don’t have to be exactly like somebody to like them.’”
An example of this was the friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte, a spider determined to help save Wilbur’s life.
“Wilbur is put off by Charlotte eating bugs,” said Danielle Schmitz, 16, who played Charlotte. “But after Charlotte explains it, Wilbur is able to realize that just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean what they’re doing is wrong.”
Charlotte’s song, “You’re You,” sung soothingly by Schmitz, helped Wilbur realize that he wasn’t any less of a pig just because he was different from Uncle (Isaac Soterwood), a flashier pig at the County Fair.
Rowan Biesemeyer, 13, played Fern, a sweet young girl who rescued Wilbur from slaughter when he was a runt. Although Fern was human and Wilbur was a pig, the two still bonded, as shown in their duet “Wilbur.”
“In the beginning, Fern is excited to have Wilbur as a younger brother or a pet,” Biesemeyer said. “As the story develops, Fern becomes more mature. As she gets older, her mother brings up the fact that she should focus more on people her age. So, Fern lets Wilbur go a little more so Wilbur could be more independent.”
Learning to be independent was part of Wilbur’s character growth in the story. As Fern became occupied with Henry Fussy, a local boy, and Charlotte focused on creating her egg sac, Wilbur let them be. Later on, Wilbur mourned Charlotte’s passing, but he also knew how to honor her legacy.
“The final word in the web is ‘humble,’ and it really describes Wilbur,” said Monica Enloe, 13, who played Wilbur and skillfully portrayed his sensitivities. “He doesn’t want his friends to devote their lives to taking care of him. He knows they should live their own life too. One of the lines Wilbur says is that he’ll love Charlotte’s children and grandchildren dearly though none of them will replace Charlotte. It shows that he learned a lot from Charlotte and that he’d continue loving her through her children.”
Learn more about Roberta Jones Junior Theatre at rjjt.org.