Lexington Children's Theatre's entertaining production of Charlotte's Web showcases almost two dozen of the area's most talented actors, high school age and younger.
They bring to bucolic life the merely adequate adaptation by Joseph Robinette of E.B. White's beloved children's book. The stage direction by Amie Dunn Kisling keeps the action moving and deftly focuses the audience's attention where it should be.
Almost all the characters, animal and human, are performed by the youngsters, with great verve and imagination. The animal characters especially seem to relish the theatrical challenge of finding movement and behavior that suggest their particular beasts and anthropomorphic personalities.
As the protagonists Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider, Urvi Patwardhan and Ashil Lee carry the story forward with real feeling, as opposed to sentimentality, and invest their characterizations with many creative porcine and arachnid touches, respectively.
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Other excellent barnyard impersonations are delivered by Mead Ryder as an energetic Templeton the Rat; Harper Toney as a snobby Old Sheep; Cassady Gorrell as the charmingly daffy Goose Goose Goose; and Cody Taylor, who really hams it up as Uncle, the prize-winning pig.
The human characters are also winsomely portrayed, especially by Charlotte Arnold as Fern and Dee White as Henry, who are so sweet in gradually manifesting their budding "puppy love."
However, the entire cast is completely upstaged by the utter cuteness and hilarity of its three youngest members, the Goslings, played in Sunday's opening performance by Annie Harris, Addie Miller and Sitara True. Talk about stealing the show.
The outstanding production values of this play lend sure professional support to the wonderful emergent talent on the stage. The adaptable barnyard set, designed by Tony Hardin, provides many interesting levels and angles, and his ingenious webs and web-writing, which are so key to the story, are elegantly and dramatically rendered. The subtle lighting by Vanessa Janson makes beautiful use of the cyclorama, and there are some crafty effects in the sound design by Jerome Wills.
Most of all, the costumes by Elizabeth Aaron are superb, from Charlotte's flowing wispy dress to Wilbur's pudgy overalls, and again, the Goose Goose Goose family is the most amusingly outfitted in their matching flounces and scalloped swimmers' caps.
Marked by delightful performances and LCT's customarily solid stagecraft, this is an effective production of a children's classic, which kids of all ages should enjoy rediscovering.