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Charlotte’s Web puts aerial spin on children’s classic

By Hayden McBennett, November 27 2014 —

Charlotte’s Web is a classic children’s story that focuses on an unlikely friendship between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur.

Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) is hosting a production of the play with a modern twist. The title character, Charlotte, will be played by aerial acrobat Manon Beaudoin. She will glide across the stage with the help of a harness that allows her to move in all directions and mimic a spider’s movements.

“The aerial work is going to be different than people are used to,” Beaudoin says. “The visual is going to be quite spectacular.”

The show is for theatre-goers of all ages. The tale has become a bedtime favourite since it was published in 1952.

Born the runt of the litter, Wilbur is almost slaughtered by a farmer for being too small, but is saved by the farmer’s eight-year-old daughter. After being sold to the neighbouring Zuckerman family, Wilbur befriends Charlotte, whose web is above his enclosure. When Wilbur discovers he’s about to be carved up for Christmas dinner, Charlotte attempts to save his life by spinning the words “some pig” in her web.

Word of the mysterious message spreads. Wilbur becomes a local celebrity and is entered into the county fair.

After Charlotte spins “humble” into her web and Wilbur wins the bronze medal for being the star attraction at the fair, Charlotte begins creating her most important work — her egg sac.

Exhausted from her creation, Charlotte asks Wilbur to bring her children home as she doesn’t have the strength to  return to the farm. Wilbur agrees and tearfully says goodbye to his friend for the last time.

While audiences are in for some laughs, the story examines themes of life, death and friendship in a way that people of all ages can understand.

“We’re born, we live, we love and we die. That’s the deal,” Beaudoin says. “When a rural child sees the animals on the farm and sees them dying, they’re more in touch with death. I think that children come to a point where they know, they need to be able to talk about it and I think there’s a great discussion in this show about it.”

The show runs from Nov. 27 – Dec. 31 at the Epcor Centre’s Martha Cohen Theatre. General admission tickets start at $30. Students can see the performance for $10 on Thursday, Nov. 27 by presenting valid student ID.

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