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Encore Stage & Studio Charlotte’s Web

By • Jun 4th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Charlotte’s Web
Encore Stage & Studio
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through June 10th
1:40 with intermission
$12/$10 children, students, and seniors
Reviewed June 2nd, 2012

After the torrential rains and possible tornadoes that swept through the Washington metro area Friday evening it was refreshing to feel the cool breezes and see the sun return Saturday. This made it a perfect weather to see Encore Stage & Studio’s production of the classic story Charlottes’s Web, performed at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington. The story by E.B. White, adapted by Joseph Robinette, tells of a pig who escapes the dinner platter thanks to a spider with the will to spin who makes Wilbur into a household name. Even though this book is seen as a children’s book it is contains many adult themes such as life, death, friendship, reality versus fiction, and being different.

The Encore actors, who ranged in age from nine up to eleventh grade, gave entertaining performances. Wilbur (Chris Hahn) was the portrait of innocence as he learned to deal with the world’s problems. Charlotte (Reiss Gidner) struggled with four limp legs, but did make her feelings for Wilbur known. Templeton the Rat (Thomas Schindler) was the show stealer as he rooted through everything and used his acerbic personality to go exploring around not only the barn, but also managed to hitch a ride to the county fair and enjoy much carousing as well. Fern (Ellie Ward) was loyal and saved Wilbur’s life from certain destruction early on and Avery (Laura Wade) managed to play the typical annoying older brother with gusto.

Doug Leonard’s set was quite simple, made up primarily of the walls of a barn, yet was easily shifted to form the county fair set and the Arable home. The set also allowed Charlotte and Templeton to climb in, over and through it. All of the many farm animals had creative costumes designed by Debra Leonard. Their characterizations of ducks, lambs, sheep, goslings, ganders and geese also helped make them appear believable. There was also a unique ending to the performance. Instead of the traditional bows with no music, this group had an upbeat line dancing number and at certain points would come up, bow or curtsy, and then move off.

Overall, Encore’s Charlotte’s Web was a fun performance that all ages could enjoy. A few smaller children in the audience could be overheard as they learned the facts of life, such as a “spider” being proud of being a blood-sucker.

Photo: Ellie Ward (“Fern”) and Chris Hahn (“Wilbur”). Photo by Larry McClemons.

Disclaimer: Encore Stage & Studio provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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