Eye on Arts Review
Loissa Elizabeth Harrison-Parks
Central Michigan University
A fun, vibrant and quirky production of a classic children's book awaits theatergoers at Saginaw's Pit and Balcony Community Theatre.
Set in the humble, rural South, Joseph Robinette’s adaptation of "Charlotte’s Web" successfully transports the audience into the heart of E.B White's famous book about a barnyard friendship between a pig and a spider. Shall we say the cast and crew spins a beautiful rendition of this classic tale.
The setting, as humble as Wilbur the Pig (played by actress Nina Groll), does a great job molding the imagination. Although unconventionally played by a female, Groll embodies the role exceptionally well -- especially in enhancing and encouraging the imaginative process for children.
The barn’s design is created with an eclectic functionality that allows for minimal changes and maximum readability. Equip with useable farm tools, animal pens and hay, even the youngest children have no difficulty understanding the play's barnyard theme.
Greek Chorus members Mary Spadfore, Mary Kolleth and Tony Ray do an excellent job painting the scene. Although not directly involved within the story, they exhibit the strong emotion with every scene and, in turn, enhance the audience’s emotional involvement.
It is apparent the cast and crew have great chemistry. Each member embodies his or her character, enriching the audience’s experience with every line.
The sheep and lamb, played by Sandra Cline and Lizzy Peake, are especially fantastic at channeling their inner Southern Belle. They are both charming and witty, delivering a few remarks that had the whole theatre laughing.
Charlotte the Spider, played by Hope Nagy, channels her inner arachnid beautifully. She consistently has smooth line delivery and elegant stage composure.
The animal costumes are clever and playful, to say the least. The geese (played by Jessica Carpenter and Spencer Beyerlein) with their fluffy, white plumage surprise the audience upon their reveal.
Overall, they are a mix of creative and classic. Templeton the rat, played by the hilarious Miss Emma Massey, seems like an homage to smart alec characters of the early to mid-20th century.
Directed by Amy Spadafore Loose, the production provides a subtle yet powerful message regarding the sacrifice of friendship. Full of humor and honest family fun, this cast and crew does a terrific job with this humble, yet magnificent production.
It ends its run at Pit and Balcony, 805 N. Hamilton, on Feb. 12.