There is a risk you take when taking young children to a play about animals.
If the humans playing those animals aren’t true to character, confusion can reign.
So I held my breath as I peeked at my 3-year-old twin boys Sunday at Casa Mañana’s production of “Charlotte’s Web” as the play opened with a farmer holding an ax and talking about his plans to slaughter a runt piglet named Wilbur - actually young actress Gracie Grenier dressed in pink from head to toe and wearing pig ears.
Would they misunderstand and think that their cruel mother had taken them to a production about child abuse?
Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
From beginning to end, the cast of “Charlotte’s Web” delivered a believable, solid performance that had even the youngest audience member riveted.
The play, adapted by Joseph Robinette from author E. B. White’s popular 1952 book and directed by Jennie Lynn Godfrey, tells the whimsical tale of a spider’s extraordinary effort to save Wilbur from becoming breakfast ham by weaving descriptive words about the pig into her web.
The costumes, designed by Tammy Spencer, weren’t the “beat you over the head” animal costumes that you’ll find at Disneyland but far more subtle. Still, they complimented the characters but didn’t distract from the actors’ role of fully making the animals come to life through their dialogue and physical movement.
Charlotte, played by Stefanie Tovar, effortlessly exuded the beauty and grace that you would expect of the beloved spider.
Jeremy Dumont, who played the older Wilbur, radiated energy and had audience members laughing out loud whether he was eating slop or running through the aisles in a memorable chase scene.
And Ryan Page nailed the role of Templeton the rat. From his dirty attire to the rat-like movements of his mouth and body, Page was a crowd favorite to watch.
The other characters nicely rounded out the production, keeping the narration flowing nicely and bringing this childhood favorite to life.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655
Recommended for: This play is suitable for all audiences.
When: Runs Friday, Saturday and Sundays through Feb. 22
Where: Casa Mañana Theatre, 3101 West Lancaster Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107