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By Sharon Allen


April 22, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Tonight, at 7:30 p.m., be sure to drive, walk, strut, skitter, quack, crawl, or spin your way to the Saxman Tribal House in Ketchikan. "Charlotte's Web" will be performed by the children of Ketchikan, but it won't be just child's play. The theatrical production is a dramatization of the beloved story by E.B. White and whether your age is 90 days or 90 years, you will not want to miss this enchanting performance.

The show is being produced by First City Players. Performances are set for tonight, Friday, April 22nd, and tomorrow night, Saturday, April 23rd at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students or seniors and $5 for children.

The cast has been culled from the youth of Ketchikan who are members of ActOut, an after-school drama program operated by First City Players. The cast of twenty-two students range in age from eight to fourteen, with some assuming multiple roles. It is being directed by Elizabeth Nelson and stars Rebekah Weidenhoeft as Charlotte, Connor Jepson as Wilbur and Jenna Luhrs as Fern.

Most of you will remember the delightful story of Charlotte's Web from your own childhood. The touching tale begins when Wilbur (Connor Jepson), the runt pig of a litter, is born on the Arable farm. Wilbur is doomed to the axe because of his small size and poor health but soft-hearted Fern (Jenna Luhrs), Mr. & Mrs. Arable's daughter, comes to his rescue by convincing her father, John Arable (Inga Christensen), to let her try to save it.

Fern plays with the piglet, feeds him and nurtures him to health, but soon Wilbur grows too big to be kept as a pet. He is soon sold to the neighboring Zuckerman farm where Fern visits him everyday.

It is here that Wilbur meets a gaudy goose (Marika Garner), a gangling gander (Alexa Zelensky), a delicate sheep (Elizabeth Graham), a loveable lamb (Skyler Smith) and a rude rat named Templeton (Rosemary Svenson). His attempt to make friends with the other animals is not met with much success until he encounters the matronly spider, Charlotte A. Cavatica (Rebekah Weidenhoeft).

Becoming fast friends with Charlotte, Wilbur is no longer lonely. Time passes quickly. Fed lots of delicious sloppy treats by a lumpish farmhand, Lurvy (Daniel Blasczyk), Wilbur grows fat and happy. But then Wilbur discovers that he is being fattened up for the slaughterhouse and his simple, happy world is thrown into chaos. This time, it is not Fern who comes to Wilbur's rescue but Charlotte. The little spider miraculously weaves descriptive words into her web, thereby saving Wilbur's life by making him a celebrity.
The play embraces the concept of friendship and confronts the delicate reality of death with a finesse that is unmatchable. The audience watches as Wilbur struggles to live, faces imminent slaughter and then comes to terms with the death of his best friend.

The dramatization by Joseph Robinette is perfect for the talented members of ActOut. It also uses the resources of the Saxman Tribal House to great advantage; giving the cast the ability to spin the web of Wilbur's tale from the center floor of the theatre surrounded by an audience, rather than on a raised stage in front of one.

Additionally, this unusual venue incorporates an incomparable atmosphere into the show by transferring its cedar scents, earthy colors, natural acoustics and shadowy lighting effects into a unique theatre experience. It is a sure bet that "Charlotte's Web" will capture your imagination.

So waddle on down at 7 pm! The kids of Ketchikan hope to see you there!

Sharon Lint-Allen is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Sharon at sharon(AT)
Sharon Lint-Allen ©2005

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