by MIKE CHAIKEN
“Charlotte’s Web” is a children’s book. But the cast of the St. Paul Catholic High School’s stage production of the classic tale about Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig have discovered there are some grown-up themes lurking in the story.
The 1952 children’s novel “Charlotte’s Web” from E.B. White, said a news release, is “the tale of the love between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte.”
Madison Howe, who plays the title character Charlotte in the show that opens this weekend, remembered that when she was younger she was struck by how child-like the tale was and how innocent it was.
But, now as a high school student, Howe sees some more mature elements hiding behind the innocence.
(Editor’s note: Spoiler alert.)
“At one point in the play, (Wilbur) says ‘I’m less than two months old, and I’m already tired of living,’ pointing towards death and maybe even depression when Charlotte passes away,” said Howe.
As a high school student, Sarah Lindquist (Wilbur) sees how the story has stressedthe importance of friendship.
“The way Charlotte risks her life to save her only friend Wilbur connects to all people of all ages,” said Lindquist. “In this day and age, having a true friend is difficult to find, so everyone should cherish their friendships, even through hardships.”
Alexis Piechowski (Edith) also noticed how the story offers lessons about friendship, ones she can relate to. “As the end of senior year of high school is approaching, I learned who my true friends are just like Wilbur found the value of friendship with Charlotte.”
“I feel when people will see this the lesson, they will … hold on to friendships and never let the friendship go.,” said Piechowski.
Samantha Millerick (Fern) also saw a message of loyalty and trust. “The bond that Fern shared with Wilbur is special and heartwarming. Fern’s compassion and loyalty to Wilbur reminds me to always love and cherish the friendships that I have made throughout the years.”
After getting to know the story of “Charlotte’s Web” as teens, cast members saw a little bit of Wilbur in themselves and a little bit of Charlotte.
Millerick said, “I definitely consider myself to be more of a Wilbur because I am outgoing and love to live in the moment.”
“Just like Wilbur, I am energetic and dedicated to the friendships that I make,” said Millerick.
“I feel like I am both Charlotte and Wilbur,” Piechowski said. “I always want to keep my promises like Charlotte, but I am very energetic like Wilbur.”
“I think I am a mix of both Wilbur and Charlotte,” said Howe.
“Charlotte is clever but I am certainly not that,” said Howe. But she said she shares Charlotte’s sense of caution and motherly instinct.
However, said Howe, “I’m very clumsy and sort of naive like Wilbur.”
“After getting the chance to play Wilbur, getting to know him as a character, and to be alongside Madison who portrays Charlotte beautifully I believe that I am partially both,” said Lindquist. “I have the free spirit and kind heart of Wilbur, and the hope and (spirit of) friendship of Charlotte.”
No matter what your age is, said Lindquist, “‘Charlotte’s Web’ is a timeless classic that will appeal to kids for countless years to come.”
“Charlotte’s Web” will be performed at St. Paul Catholic High School, 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (65 and up), and $10 for students 18 and under).
For information, go to spchs.com.