CHS theater to target children’s story towards larger, older audience

This year’s winter production, “Charlotte’s Web,” will run from Feb. 9 to 11. This play has not been produced by CHS since 1994.

Jim Peterson, director of theater and film, said he chose this child-friendly production because it added variety to CHS’s plays.

“Even though our students had produced a play that appeals to children a couple years ago, the style of that play, (‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’), is very different from ‘Charlotte’s Web,’” Peterson said via email. “(‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’) was also very different than last year’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and this year’s production of ‘The Sting.’ I also chose the play because I thought we would have the right talented actors to bring it to life. Also, the technical elements would fit into what we are able to produce and afford in our auditorium. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a title for production.”

Sophomore Sophia Hughes will play the character of Charlotte, one of the leading roles of the play. Hughes compared this year’s play to last year’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and said previous plays were much less child-friendly in nature.

“I think in the past we have been doing more serious (plays); it is not that (‘Charlotte’s Web’) is not serious because there is friendship, loss of friendship and death,” Hughes said. “The other shows we’ve done have been about more serious things like mobs, or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ last year was about suicide, and (‘Charlotte’s Web’) is just a more family friendly show than the other shows we’ve done.”

Sophomore Caroline Frawley will play the character Fern, another leading role in “Charlotte’s Web.” Frawley said the play being a more child-friendly show has changed how the play will be acted.

“We have to be more animated and use a lot of facial expressions,” Frawley said. “We have to speak in the language of the younger audience, so they’ll know what’s going on in the show, and they’ll be able to listen and watch and understand and have a good time because we’re putting on a show for them.”

As a newly reintroduced play, “Charlotte’s Web” has its challenges. Peterson agreed with Frawley and said one of the biggest hurdles in dealing with a play geared toward children is how the actors communicate for young children.

“I think the biggest challenge for the students are the ones who play animals,” Peterson said. “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is about a spider and a pig and the barnyard animals and the sheep and the geese, it’s outside of their (normal) range.”

Frawley said, “We’re doing it for them so we have to do what they think is interesting and what they’ll watch and what they’ll love.”