Charlotte’s Web Stays Beautifully True to The Novel

Samuel Elton (Wilbur) and Ellie Wilson (Fern Arable). Photo by Jay Paul

There are few people who aren’t familiar with the beautiful and bittersweet story of Charlotte’s Web.  Virginia Rep brings the cherished novel to life with exactly the right mix of love, nostalgia and honesty that makes you want to pick up the book and read it again.

(from left to right) Isabella Cipollina (Narrator), Laney Yoo (Narrator), Lucas Hall (Lurvy), Adalaide O’Connor (Narrator). Photo by Jay Paul

The story is narrated by Isabella Cipollina, Adalaide O’Connor, and, alternating nights, Evelyn Drumeer and Laney Yoo who balance their whistful story telling with presence and charm.  In addition to supporting the story through narration, the young women sing time-honored songs such as You Are My Sunshine and Keep on the Sunny Side, beautifully anchored by the voice and music from Lucas Hall on the guitar.

The characters of the story itself also shine.  Audra Honaker’s Charlotte is absolutely enchanting as she gracefully navigates her large web.  Over the course of 90 minutes, Honaker has a seamless transition from energetic and friendly with an almost stone cold honestly to a tired, wise and loveable heroine.  Samuel Elton plays the endearing and radiant pig, capturing the heart of Fern, Charlotte and the audience as well.  Ellie Wilson is a strong Fern and a delight to watch.

Other notable performances include Jessi Johnson and Paul Major as the uppity Goose and the Gander (respectively). Lucas Hall as the loveable Lurvy, Donathan Arnold as Avery, the hilarious and adorable Lamb played by Hanna Piper and Evan Nasteff as a sly Templeton.

Audra Honaker (Charlotte). Photo by Jay Paul

Costumes by Sarah Grady were subtle and lovely with special attention to fabrics and textures to enhance each animal’s unique personality and traits; wool sweaters for the rigid sheep, coats for the proper goose and gander, leather and jeans for the rebel rat and soft overalls and converse sneakers for the childlike pig.

Both my 8 year old son and I enjoyed the show immensely, and both of us were quite tearful at the end.  Please note that this production deals with the same themes in regards to life and death in the same direct and honest manner as the book which may need to be considered when bringing sensitive children.

Charlotte’s Web is an excellent production for those who loved the book and a wonderful introduction for those who have yet to experience it.


Charlotte’s Web

October 10 – November 9, 2014

Wednesdays – Sundays
At Willow Lawn
1601 Willow Lawn Drive
(804) 282-2620

Click here for tickets