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Charlotte's Web still resonates in the 21st century

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 7, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A tight-knit team of actors, directors and techs from Sir John Franklin high school's drama department is on stage this week rehearsing hard for a funny, physical and emotionally-dynamic children's theatre production.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Drama students at Sir John Franklin are preparing to pack Northern Arts and Cultural Centre next week. Pictured here are, from left, Diana Pelova, Emma Tilden and Jenny Aitken. Charlotte's Web runs on Nov. 14 and 15. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

Charlotte's Web is the touching curly tale of a runt pig named Wilbur who strives to overcome grim odds with help from eight-year-old Fern and eight-legged Charlotte. The play is adapted from the 1952 novel by E.B. White.

"This adaptation is very accurate," said Grade 12 student Diana Pelova. "But there are some modern spins."

Pelova is a veteran drama student, having served as stage manager for her school's productions of Grease and Footloose and as a tech for numerous shows. Another experienced drama student, Monika Laube, took over stage management for this play while Pelova acts in the role of Templeton, a nihilistic rat who only looks out for himself.

"It's a really sweet show," said Emma Tilden, who portrays the compassionate young girl named Fern. "I think it's different (from past school productions) because it's a bit more serious."

The Bella Dance Academy student collaborated with Jacklyn Soderberg and Cara Goodwin to choreograph the ambitious interpretive dance routines, accompanied by fast and funky music, that pepper the performance.

Drama teacher and play director Andrea Sproxton granted her students lots of creative freedom.

As a result, much of the action is molded by the students' own ideas and imaginations, Tilden said.

School librarian Janice Daly painted the elaborate, towering sets constructed by Brian Wainwright with assistance from the tech classes.

Jenny Aitken, who appeared in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Footloose, stars as the principal pig, Wilbur. Aitken said despite the dancing, special effects, contemporary music and other surprising twists in the production, everything essential was left unchanged.

"The moral of the story is still very much the same," she said.

The play runs at Northern Arts and Cultural Centre at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 and at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 15.