Arts and Entertainment

The barnyard is full of fun with WCT’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’

Lily Simpson as Fern, Liam Sherman as Wilbur and Kent Junge in the role of Mr. Zuckerman are some of the main characters in Whidbey Children
Lily Simpson as Fern, Liam Sherman as Wilbur and Kent Junge in the role of Mr. Zuckerman are some of the main characters in Whidbey Children's Theater's production of 'Charlotte's Web' opening this week in Langley.
— image credit: Patricia Duff / The Record

Imagine a pig who can talk and a spider who can spell.

You may have heard of these two famously ingenious creatures, the stars in author E.B. White’s well-loved story “Charlotte’s Web.”

Wilbur, an unsuspecting pig, moves to the Zuckerman Farm where he learns the true meaning of friendship from a wise gray spider named Charlotte.

When it becomes apparent that Wilbur is being well fed for a reason, Charlotte and Wilbur are determined to foil Mr. Zuckerman’s plans to send Wilbur to the slaughterhouse.

With the help of Charlotte and her “terrific” webs, a no-nonsense rat named Templeton and other barnyard friends, Wilbur becomes the prize-winning pig of the county fair and the most famous pig ever.

Whidbey Children’s Theater in Langley welcomes this barnyard full of friendly animals when it opens the stage production “Charlotte’s Web” for a two-weekend run beginning Friday, April 17.

The two-act play, based on White’s book, features a large cast of adult, teen and youth actors and is directed by WCT founder Martha Murphy, who also appears in the production.

In an open letter to fans, White talked about what inspired his fantastical tale of a pig who talks and the spider who tries to save him from the jaws of death.

“I like animals and my barn is a very pleasant place to be, at all hours,” White wrote.

“One day when I was on my way to feed the pig,

I began feeling sorry for the pig because, like most pigs, he was doomed to die. This made me sad. So I started thinking of ways to save a pig’s life. I had been watching a big grey spider at her work and was impressed

by how clever she was at weaving.

“Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know; a story of friendship and salvation on a farm. ”

“Charlotte’s Web,” published in 1952, remains one of the best-loved children’s fiction books of all time. With its messages of loyalty and non-discriminatory friendships, the characters of White’s story remind all of us of the power of love and truth to move mountains.

White, an avid animal lover, wrote to his young readers that real life is only one kind of life.

“There is also the life of the imagination. And although my stories are imaginary,

I like to think that there is some truth in them, too — truth about the way people and animals feel and think and act,” White said.

Producer Patricia Rohan said Murphy is the perfect director to carry out White’s vision of what children can do with their imaginations.

“I look forward to watching the kids pull it all together, see their audience and reach into themselves to find the voice of their character,” Rohan said.

“It always seems like magic, the way Martha encourages these kids to go way beyond what they thought they could ever do.”

In fact, Murphy has had practice. This production is somewhat of an anniversary celebration for WCT, as the theater founder and director Murphy mounted the play 10 years ago.

Adapted from the book by Joseph Robinette, the Whidbey Children’s Theater production revels in the lovable characters of “Charlotte’s Web” with its themes of friendship, adventure, passage of time and innocence forgotten. It is a show everyone can enjoy, no matter what age.

Colorful costumes, the set, props, lively music and special effects are just some of what to expect from WCT’s spring production.

“Charlotte’s Web” features two casts, one to perform on the WCT stage and one to take the show on the road.

The mainstage cast includes Lily Simpson, Jonas Anderson, Paul Dickerson, Kent Junge, Sara Saltee, Ethan Berkley, Liam Sherman, Jameson Cook, Sophie Frank, Iona Rohan, Shady Moody, Bailey DeRosiers, Chloe Rose Dickerson, Libby Hawkins, Molly Quade, Hannah Kennedy, Carli Newman, Annie Saltee, Nora Anastasi, Miranda Sherrell, Emma Anastasi, Skye Maguire, Mara Bush, Jack Sherrell, Liam Henny, Ari Rohan, Cerys Bishop, Chloe Hood, Rohan, Bob Waterman and Murphy.

Performances on the Whidbey Children’s Theater stage in Langley are at

7:30 p.m. April 17, 18, 24 and 25, and at 2 p.m. April 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Discount $7 seats are also available on selected dates; call WCT at 221-2282 for details.

In a completely new venture with the intent to connect with the island’s Oak Harbor theater, an additional performance with the traveling cast will be staged at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2 at the Whidbey Playhouse.

The traveling cast includes Amelia Weeks, Arthur Condor,Richard Burdsal, Kent Junge, Melinda Mack, Ethan Berkley, Emma Lungren, Coel Cable, Jenny Zisette, Meaghan de Wolf, Alayna Benny, Brent de Wolf, Ethan Jovich, Mary Zisette, Hannah Jovich, Malou Payne, Alohi Elliot, Emma Gibson, Hannah Mack, Mackenna Kelly, Tori Forster, Jaime Rodden, Austin Drake, Jess Morrison, Jodi Forster, Rachael Arand, Sarafina Durr, Emily Anderson, Keith Mack and Murphy.

Call 360-679-2237 for North End info.

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