Woven In Fun

Woven In Fun

Courtesy Photo
“Charlotte’s Web” “has so much for so many people,” says Trike Theatre’s Executive Director Paul Savas. (L to R: Katie Wee, Mason Azbill, Jonny Schremmer, and Jason Shipman star in Trike Theatre’s production of “Charlotte’s Web”.)

‘Charlotte’s Web’ offers sweet holiday message



When Trike Theatre debuts its production of the classic “Charlotte’s Web” this weekend, it will mark the beginning of a new relationship between the professional children’s theater company and the Walton Arts Center.

“The Walton Arts Center and Trike have collaborated before on new shows — ‘Bear Shape of Mind,’ for example, has played every county in the state,” says Scott Galbraith, the WAC’s vice president of programming and executive producer. “That’s been going on for a while, and with Trike now achieving its 10-year anniversary, it was ready, as were we, to have the relationship grow.

“They are our first artistic affiliate. There’s an exclusive aspect to our relationship — these shows can only be seen at the Walton Arts Center, and then there are the other works that can be seen more broadly.”

Trike’s executive director, Paul Savas, says the title is an ideal choice to mark an important milestone.

“It is such a great show, because it has so much for so many people,” says Savas. “Adults and youngsters — the messages are true for all ages. It has a tinge of sadness in there but, in that sadness, it supports life and how to live life. It’s a lovely story, and the message is great.”

Galbraith says the WAC has always been drawn to Trike’s practice of casting young actors age appropriate for their roles. “Charlotte’s Web” will feature six area youngsters in its cast.

“We love the fact that they’ve provided opportunities for young performers,” he says, as he points out that studies have repeatedly shown the social, emotional and educational benefits that an arts education can provide children. “The arts really is a team sport. It is a completely collaborative team effort. We love having a partner that is dedicated to providing that sort of hands-on arts training.”

“We identify youngsters in the area who have some really good skills and an inclination to pursue theater at the very least as an advanced interest in their lives,” explains Savas. “We give them an opportunity to rehearse and perform with theater professionals in those roles that are age appropriate. We have a number of area youngsters who have come up through our training program and now are getting to perform on the stage at the Walton Arts Center with the best actors and designers in the area. That’s something we really do pride ourselves on.”

The nearly three-week run at the WAC allows for a more immersive environment for theatergoers, says Galbraith.

“Trike has a desire to create an atmosphere around the performance that extends beyond the performance,” he says. “As people come into the theater, they’re trying to bring them into the world of Wilbur. This is an immersive experience we can’t always achieve with shorter runs.”

“We call it the ‘360 experience,’” says Savas. “The moment you walk in, you’ll notice that elements of the world of the play will have spilled out into the lobby. When you’re in the theater, you’re in the play. We pride ourselves on our philosophical stand that theater is an interactive thing. We are definitely a ‘no shushing’ theater.”

Both men say the story of Wilbur, the awkward pig, and his champion, Charlotte, is a moving, meaningful choice for the holiday season.

“I’m in my late 40s, and I remember reading the story as a youngster with my mom,” says Savas. “It’s a sweet, beautiful world. Charlotte saves Wilbur, and Wilbur learns such a great lesson of love and sacrifice from Charlotte. Themes of love and sacrifice and of caring and of family … it really is a play a with terrific message. And it’s a funny journey, so not only will people be moved by the bittersweet elements, but they’ll be moved by the fun elements of the play.”

“As an adoptive parent, one of the things that I really love about this story is the multiple family strings that are developed throughout the piece — the mother figure sort of shifts as the story goes on,” says Galbraith. “Even though children might be coming from a nontraditional family, they will identify with this story, and kids from traditional families might be able to understand nontraditional families a bit more. I think there is a universality to the story that is very important right now.”


‘Charlotte’s Web’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17; 2 & 4 p.m. Nov. 19; 2 & 7 p.m. Nov. 25; 2 & 4 p.m. Nov. 26; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1; 2 p.m. Dec. 2

WHERE — Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville

COST — $9-$15

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Theater