CHARLOTTE’S WEB AT ZACH THEATRE – FIRST SHOW OF THE 2016-17 THEATRE FOR FAMILIES SERIES
Adapted by Joseph Robinette
October 14-December 3, 2016, Kleberg Theatre
ZACH Theatre has an amazing cast for the 2016-17 Theatre for Families Series opener, Charlotte’s Web which is currently playing on the Kleberg Stage October 14 – December 3, 2016 under the direction of Nat Miller, ZACH Theatre Education Director. Public performances of Charlotte’s Web are Friday, October 14 at 6:30 p.m., select Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and select Sundays at 2 p.m. To sum up the story; when Fern saves Wilbur, the smallest pig in the litter, Wilbur’s fate falls in the hand of a seemingly fragile web of Charlotte the spider. Charlotte weaves a path to freedom for Wilbur in this heartwarming tale of friendship and devotion featuring bluegrass music and aerial artists from partner Sky Candy. This show is appropriate for children ages 3 and older. The run time is approximately one hour and ten minutes.
Charlotte’s Web is a children’s novel by American author Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985) and illustrated by Garth Williams that was published in October 15, 1952, by Harper & Brothers – yes, as it is now HarperCollins. It’s very fitting that my family and I went to see this play based on Charlotte’s Web on the 64th year anniversary it was published because – Hello? – book nerds! Now here is where I have to be honest…..I actually saw the animated version of the book (the original one from 1973) years before I read Charlotte’s Web. I was pretty young when I saw the movie, and it was probably best that was the sequence of events, because even in the animated film version, I could sympathize so much with characters, whether they are real, imaginary, or non-human, in a way that when read in print, it is even harder to handle and digest. For a children’s book, there are so many things in Charlotte’s Web that are tragic yet true, sad but brave, and of course, what seems like good luck and fortune to be able to live a long life, it is actually a bitter-sweet sentiment when those close to you pass on while you are left still standing are all such BIG topics for little kids! If you haven’t read or heard or even watched Charlotte’s Web, I’ll try to catch you up below and talk about how you can go see it in person at the ZACH Theatre here in Austin.
Fern Arable’s father rescues a little piglet from slaughter and she nurtures her new friend and names him Wilbur. Like many animals raised on a farm, Wilbur is sold to her uncle, Homer Zuckerman, where he has a hard time bonding with other animals and learns of his fate of being slaughtered. It is at this seemingly very low point in Wilbur’s life that he befriends a lovely spider named Charlotte who lives in a web in Wilbur’s enclosure. This is when the book gets REALLY interesting, because soon after not only do we learn that Charlotte can weave extremely intricate patterns into her webs, she can also WRITE WORDS into them, too! These aren’t just any words she creates, oh no, she writes specific words of praise about Wilbur and soon all of Zuckerman’s neighbors believe it is an act of divine intervention and Wilbur becomes a big pig celebrity in the agriculture world. One of my favorite characters in the book is Templeton the rat because he is a much needed comic relief character and his yearning for the finer things in life as well as a knack for being a wordsmith, he is a funny character you root for. While Wilbur’s fate of going to the slaughterhouse is finally dissolved, it is Charlotte who becomes weak and frail after spinning an egg sac of her unborn offspring. This story is a beautiful tale of friendship, astonishing devotion, and even a bigger message about our freedoms and those of the animal kingdom. While E.B. White never divulged his reasons for writing Charlotte’s web, he did publish Death of a Pig (in 1948 – years before Charlotte) about how he could not save a sickly pig from it’s fate of the slaughterhouse, so Charlotte’s Web could very well be his redemption book.
Charlotte’s Web awards and nominations:
- Newbery Honor Book (1953)
- Horn Book Fanfare (1953)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (1970) (awarded to White for his children’s books: Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little)
- Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (1984)
Mariela Denson – Fern
Mercy Bovik – Fern
Riley McCue – Wilbur
Diego Rodruiguez – Wilbur
Winnie Hsia – Charlotte
Amber Quick – Narrator/Sheep/Spectator
Amanda Clifton – Goose/Spectator/Judge
Joseph Quintana – Templeton/Lurvy
Jerome Schoolar – Homer/Gander/Reporter/Uncle (the pig)/President of the Fair
Allen Robertson – Lead Musician/Mr.Arable/Spectator/Judge
Lydia Meyers – Understudy for Female Roles
Chase Brewer – Understudy for Male Roles
Allen Robertson – Music Director
Michael Krauss – Scenic and Properties Designer
Brandon McWilliams – Costume Designer
Rachel Atkinson – Lighting Designer
Rodd Simonsen – Sound Designer
Megan Smith – Stage Manager
Our Experience at Charlotte’s Web at the ZACH Theatre
I was so excited that the ZACH Theatre was doing Charlotte’s Web as one of their plays this year but slightly hesitant to take our girls because Charlotte’s death is quite sad and my daughters are just 6 and 3. However, Brooke was very understanding when our cat, Spike, passed away at the healthy cat age of 14 last year and besides that, her class was reading the Charlotte’s Web chapter book in first grade. She knowingly told me she already KNEW how it ended, so there you go! I was hesitant for no reason! I sometimes forget that my daughters are growing up and subjects like death have already been present in their lives, and it’s a good idea to have healthy discussions and an outlook about it. Besides, the story of Charlotte’s Web is not focused on a spider’s death, it’s about the loving support and kindness that someone (ahem – a spider) is doing for another person (ahem – pig) for no other reason than to be a good friend. Sure, everyone roots for Wilbur the pig because more often than not, his life is on the line as a runt and pig that could be someone’s next dinner, yet it’s Charlotte that sees his potential and guarantees his life is not cut short through her intricate web designs featuring ‘Some Pig!’ We could all benefit from having a ‘Charlotte’ in our lives, so off we went to check out ZACH’s version of Charlotte’s Web 64 years after the book was first published. Yes, we were all very excited!
First thing’s first: We had to dress up to look the part of the Charlotte’s Web audience members!
We had great seats at the ZACH’s Kleberg Theatre, but I don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘bad seat’ in this intimate and circular stage. Even before the play started, we were introduced to a group of folk song musicians and it was so much fun to sing with them. All of the actors were amazing (and even fantastic singers – WOW), but I have to say that we were all very enthralled by Winnie Hsia as Charlotte who did impressive acrobatics from silk strings. Each time Charlotte would web another word, Winnie would wrap around the strings in time and words would begin to light up on the stage. It was FANTASTIC to see.
I have to mention the kid-friendly lobby where children can write messages or drawings to clothespin on a home-made spider web on the Theatre’s winter. The girls LOVED that. They also enjoyed meeting the cast and crew after the show and I’m including a picture of it below. Charlotte’s Web may just be my favorite play I’ve watched at the ZACH so far and my kids were both into the show – as was my husband. SCORE! I can’t wait for the next family series play at the ZACH that is coming soon.
Plan Your Trip!
Here are a few things to note:
- ZACH Theatre does offer drinks and snacks (including alcoholic beverages).
- ATMs are not available on site so plan accordingly.
- There is no specific dress code, but business casual is appreciated.
- While children’s shows are for kids and their families, they do prohibit infants from attending their Mainstage productions to avoid distractions.
- ZACH is fully handicap accessible and compliant.
- The Kleberg Stage (where Charlotte’s Web takes place) is located at 1421 W Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78704.
More Info on the Charlotte’s Web play:
- Charlotte’s Web will be featuring bluegrass music and aerial artistry from our production partner, Sky Candy. The show runs about one hour with a 20-minute intermission. To see a sneak peek of the Charlotte’s Web Enrichment Guide click here.
- A petting zoo outside will be available before the show on the following dates:
October 14, November 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and December 10.
- Be sure to leave your favorite word on Charlotte’s web in the lobby!
The ZACH campus features three theaters each with differing seating configurations and excellent sight lines, so check your ticket to make sure you know the correct location:
- Topfer Theater: a 420-seat proscenium stage in which the seating fans around the stage in an arc, much like movie theater stadium-style seating.
- Kleberg Theatre: a 230-seat thrust stage, with the audience seated on three sides
- Whisenhunt Theatre: a 130-seat arena stage, also known as a theater-in-the-round.
Parking at ZACH Theatre:
In addition to nearby street parking on Toomey Road, Sterzing Street, Lee Barton Drive, Riverside Drive, and Jessie and Butler Streets (see map here), parking for ZACH patrons attending a performance is also available at ZACH’s Whisenhunt Theatre, at ZACH’s Topfer Theatre, behind the Parks and Recreation Department at night and on Sundays, and at The Bicycle Shop just south of Barton Springs and Lamar by McDonald’s. Parking is $7 per car. For night and weekend performances, attendants will be available to collect payment before the show via cash or secure mobile credit card. NEW: Subscribers can park in the Whisenhunt or Topfer lots for the discounted price of $5 with your 2016-17 hangtag. For a complete parking map, click here.
Merchandise: Visit ZACH’s Gift shop for a ZACH branded product or a specialty Charlotte’s Web show gift. Items include: stuffed animals, books, and more.
Charlotte’s Web Schedule:
Fri 10/14/16 6:30PM Sat 10/15/16 2:00PM Sun 10/16/16 2:00PM
- Sat 10/22/16 11:00AM
- Sat 10/22/16 2:00PM
- Sun 10/23/16 2:00PM
- Sat 10/29/16 11:00AM (Sensory-Friendly Performance and Sign Interpreted Performance)
- Sat 10/29/16 2:00PM
- Sun 10/30/16 2:00PM
- Sat 11/5/16 11:00AM
- Sat 11/5/16 2:00PM
- Sun 11/6/16 2:00PM
- Sat 11/12/16 11:00AM
- Sat 11/12/16 2:00PM
- Sun 11/13/16 2:00PM
- Sat 11/19/16 11:00AM
- Sat 11/19/16 2:00PM
- Sun 11/20/16 2:00PM
- Fri 11/25/16 2:00PM
- Sat 11/26/16 11:00AM
- Sat 11/26/16 2:00PM
- Sat 12/3/16 11:00AM
- Sat 12/3/16 2:00PM
About the ZACH Theatre: Located at 1510 Toomey Road – Austin, TX 78704 (Phone (512) 476-0541), the ZACH Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization located in Austin,Texas.
Support the ZACH Theatre!
ZACH thrives and prospers with support from patrons like you. Be a part of our cast of generous individual donors, family foundations, corporate sponsors and volunteers. It’s easy to donate your time, resources and ideas to make a difference at ZACH. Join us for our fantastic special events, exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunities and opening night celebrations as you support artistic excellence on our stages and valuable arts educational programming in our community. Learn more about how you can donate HERE.
List Price: $15.00 (Youth) – $20.00 (Adult)