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Robinwood Encore Players to perform children's classic

August 05, 1998

Robinwood Encore PlayersBy TERI JOHNSON / Staff Writer

photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Magic words appear in this Web, but there's no computer in sight.

Instead you'll find a spider and a pig, spinning a heartwarming tale of the strong threads that bind a friendship.

The Robinwood Encore Players will present the children's classic "Charlotte's Web" Saturday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 9, at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. The play is adapted from E.B. White's book by Joseph Robinette and directed by Ray Henderson and David Dull.

--cont from life--

Charlotte, the spider famous for weaving her own special magic, is played by Tracey Rhodes of Hagerstown. Rhodes, 29, who already had read the book, rented the movie to prepare for her role.

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"It's been a lot of fun," she says.

The chance to be in "Charlotte's Web" was a childhood dream come true for Jon Adams of Hagerstown, who portrays Wilbur the pig.

"It was my favorite movie when I was a little kid," says Adams, an 18-year-old theater major at HCC.

Steve Livesay, an international studies major at HCC, says he's having a great time playing Templeton the rat.

"All I do is complain and eat. He's the most selfish thing in the world," Livesay says.

He says he didn't have to create a special way for Templeton to talk.

"I find my everyday voice is irritating enough," he says.

The 18-member cast has been rehearsing since the beginning of July.

One person enjoying the rehearsals is Shane Cruce, a 9-year-old Hagerstown resident who plays the Lamb.

"It's the most fun part of the week," the fourth-grader at Winter Street Elementary says.

Templeton the ratThe animals stand as real ones would when actors portraying humans are onstage - with the exception of Fern Arable, played by Wendy Younker, who can understand what the animals say. When the people disappear, the animals stand on two feet and talk.

The cast members say doing a children's show presents some difficulties.

"You have to work 10 times harder to keep their attention," Livesay says.

Because they're telling a story, they have to make sure kids understand what is being done onstage, Henderson says.

They originally talked about presenting Charlotte as a puppet but decided she would be more realistic if she walked and talked. Charlotte will wear a black bodysuit and a hood, and she crouches on a four-foot platform on the left side of the stage.

It's important not to use costumes or makeup that would scare children, says Dull, who also portrays John Arable.

Dull constructed a snout and a lower lip for Adams to wear as Wilbur and a special nose for Livesay as Templeton. He also created beaks for the Goose and the Gander, played by Angie Byers and John Rudy, as well as noses for Cruce and the Sheep, portrayed by Thomas Everling, and Uncle the pig, played by Carly Churchey.

Churchey also narrates the 90-minute show, which includes an intermission between the two acts.

The cast also includes Amaya Dull as Martha Arable, Steve Danfelt as Avery Arable, Jay Frantz as Homer Zuckerman, Sally Cruce as Edith Zuckerman, Roy Imler as Lurvy, Kim Stolins as the reporter, Chris Jones as the photographer and Mike Mason as the announcer.

Proceeds from "Charlotte's Web," like those from The Robinwood Encore Players' previous three productions, will benefit HCC Alumni Association's amphitheater project, Dull says. The group raised about $10,000 through those productions, he says.

The amphitheater, which will be dedicated in May, will cost about $1 million to build, says Lisa Stewart, alumni coordinator for the college. About $400,000 still is needed, she says.

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