Charlotte's Web at Derby Theatre: Play's timeless message will spin a web of festive cheer
A STAGE adaptation of Charlotte's Webb, E B White's heart-warming tale about the power of friendship, offers Derby an alternative family show for the festive season.
The drama has been co-produced with The Birmingham Stage Company and it is Derby Theatre's first in house production this season.
It also marks a return to the city for director Roger Haines, who was part of the award-winning team which created and staged The Go-Between in Derby in the autumn of 2011.
Roger revealed that he has adapted the popular Broadway production of Charlotte's Webb with some significant changes for Derby audiences.
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"We have re-located the story to an English farm and our show will have a far more intimate feel to it," he said.
"We have pared it down a lot in terms of the size of cast and the orchestra. With only eight characters it now has a far more intimate feel but it is also very poignant.
"Children tend to embrace imaginary worlds very readily and this story carries strong messages within it."
As well as confronting the cycle of birth and death, Roger feels that the main theme of the play is the importance of friendship.
"The drama of the story lies in whether or not the pig will be turned into bacon," said Roger "The idea that a spider can use her resources to help him out is metaphor for overcoming differences in the world. If we pull together great things can happen but often our fear holds us back. It is a timeless and timely message"
There are five animals altogether in the drama, with a goose, a sheep and a rat joining spider Charlotte and Wilbur the pig in the farm.
However, the actors playing the animals will not be running around on all fours, or wear masks.
"As soon as you cover the faces of the actors all the immediacy and facial expression are lost," he said.
"We will be distilling the essence of the animals into the characters though. For example the rat will be portrayed as an East End wide boy and we are thinking of getting Charlotte to wear a crash helmet, as if she has been out bungee jumping."
Roger revealed that a magical hi-tech device will enable the writing to appear in the web, though he was keeping the details under his hat.
Although the show is not overtly festive, Roger says the sentiments of the story are ideal for the Christmas season. The evening also promises some great music and lyrics penned by Charles Strouse – better known for writing the lyrics for Annie in 1977, which won him a Tony Award.
WHAT: Charlotte's Web
WHERE: Derby Theatre
WHEN: December 7- January 12.7.15pm, matinees 2.15pm and previews 10.15am
ADMISSIONS: £9-£22. Family tickets £39-£60.
TICKETS: Call Derby 593939 or visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk.