The Center Players Community Theatre presents "Charlotte's Web" Sept. 19-22 at Madison Square Center for the Arts. Directed by Kathryn Dawkins and Betty Jo Mahaffey, the show includes a cast representing 12 different area schools. Cast members are: front, Emma Schirmer, Mary Leigh Williamson, Liam Temple, Blaine Bridges, Ava Sullivan, Olivia Heeren, Campbell Browning, Audrey King, Katy Mayhan, Cash Jones; second row on steps, Caroline Waylett, Olivia Odom; middle row, Chloe Bell, Lucy Harper, Logan Kennedy, J Perry, Annelise Self, Mattie Ellis, Devin Ranftle, Wells Kennedy; back row, Ali Smith, Nora Kate Robinson, Morgan Trusty, Evie Watkins, Davis Runnells, Adelaide Kirk, Emily Kay Kirk and John Patrick Martin. Cast members not pictured are Nora Werne and Rohan Sood.
The Center Players Community Theatre presents "Charlotte's Web" Sept. 19-22 at Madison Square Center for the Arts. Directed by Kathryn Dawkins and Betty Jo Mahaffey, the show includes a cast representing 12 different area schools. Cast members are: front, Emma Schirmer, Mary Leigh Williamson, Liam Temple, Blaine Bridges, Ava Sullivan, Olivia Heeren, Campbell Browning, Audrey King, Katy Mayhan, Cash Jones; second row on steps, Caroline Waylett, Olivia Odom; middle row, Chloe Bell, Lucy Harper, Logan Kennedy, J Perry, Annelise Self, Mattie Ellis, Devin Ranftle, Wells Kennedy; back row, Ali Smith, Nora Kate Robinson, Morgan Trusty, Evie Watkins, Davis Runnells, Adelaide Kirk, Emily Kay Kirk and John Patrick Martin. Cast members not pictured are Nora Werne and Rohan Sood.
Get caught up in the story and lessons spun in “Charlotte’s Web” with the Center Players Community Theatre. “Some pig” will be on stage Sept. 19-22 at Madison Square Center for the Arts. The terrific, radiant and, of course, humble Wilbur will be joined by his friend Charlotte the barn spider and the other animals on the Zuckerberg farm in this production featuring a cast of 30 young actors in grades 3-12 representing 12 different schools. 

Directors Kathryn Dawkins and Betty Jo Mahaffey spin a delightful adaptation of author E.B. White’s tale celebrating friendship, bravery and kindness in the first show of the Center Players’ 2019-20 season at the Madison arts center at 2103 Main Street.

“I love this book. It’s timeless,” the show’s co-director Betty Jo Mahaffey said. “It doesn’t get old, and it has such great lessons. I love how at the beginning Wilbur is very self-centered and it’s all about him, but throughout the show he learns to be a true friend.” 

“It’s a story of love and friendship, perseverance and sacrifice,” said co-director Kathryn Dawkins.

“Charlotte’s Web” tells the story of Wilbur, born the runt of the litter, and Charlotte, who proves to be a true friend and good writer.  Wilbur is initially saved by Fern, the farmer’s daughter, As Wilbur worries about how to remain on the farm with all the animals and stay far away from the slaughterhouse, Charlotte hatches a plan to save his life with her web-weaving abilities.

“The best quote of the play is when Charlotte says, ‘You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.’  She feels so good because she saves Wilbur,” Dawkins said.

Because of the valuable lessons embedded in a play that is so much fun to watch, the production is sure to please everyone in the audience, the directors said. “Bring your kids and your grandkids for a delightful evening at the theater,” Dawkins added.

The Center Players veterans serving as co-directors are excited about what their young cast brings to the show.

 “Some of the actors have a lot of experience on stage, and some have no previous experience,” Dawkins said. 

“The experienced ones have helped out the less experienced,” Mahaffey said. “They are a very talented, diverse group. I’ve been impressed with them all. They’re very directable.” 

The co-directors said they appreciate all the help they’ve received making the barnyard and Charlotte’s web, with all of the spider’s writings, come to life.

“We’ve had great participation from grandparents and new friends to help out with sets,” Mahaffey said.

Dawkins said the spider web, which Charlotte uses to save Wilbur’s life, was designed and created by Lynn Evans, a longtime Center Players volunteer.

“Charlotte’s Web” show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 19-21, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22. Tickets can be purchased online at cpcharlottesweb.eventzilla.net or at the box office beginning 30 minutes before show time. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students and military.

The Friday night performance will be “School Spirit Night.” Students wearing a shirt or uniform representing their schools get in for $5. Check the Facebook pages of Center Players or Madison Square Center for the Arts for updates on additional promotions during the run of the show.

To add to the atmosphere of a county fair, where the second half of the play takes place, the concession stand will sell popcorn, cotton candy and Cracker Jacks.

Showcasing their talents in the cast are: Mattie Ellis as Fern; Wells Kennedy as John Arable; Katy Mayhan as Martha Arable; Cash Jones as Avery Arable; Logan Kennedy as Homer Zuckerman; Lucy Harper as Edith Zuckerman; Davis Runnels as Lurvy; Ava Sullivan as Baby Wilbur/Judge; J Perry as Wilbur; Devin Ranftle as Templeton; Annelise Self as Charlotte; Blaine Bridges as Goose; Liam Temple as Gander; Audrey King as Sheep; Campbell Browning as Lamb; Chloe Bell, Emma Schirmer and Mary Leigh Williamson as Chorus Members; Nora Kate Robinson as Reporter; Rohan Sood as Photographer/Judge; Ali Smith and Evie Watkins as Spectators; Morgan Trusty, Emily Kay Kirk and Adelaide Kirk as Fairgoers; Nora Werne as Announcer; John Patrick Murphy as Uncle; Olivia Odom as Baby Spider Joy; Olivia Heeren as Baby Spider Aranea; and Caroline Waylett as Baby Spider Nellie.

Following “Charlotte’s Web,” the Center Players 2019-20 season will include: the musical “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” Dec. 5-8; a dinner theater production by The Detectives Comedy Show,  Jan. 24; “Fools” by Neil Simon, March 19-22 and 26-29; and the musical “Guys and Dolls” June 18-21 and 25-28.