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We’re not in Kansas now, Charlotte

Although banned in Kansas in 2006 because “talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural”, Evolution Theatre Company is staging Charlotte's Web, a children's story that is just as popular with grown-ups who read it as kids, except, maybe, in Kansas.

When farm girl Fern Arable's beloved pet piglet, Wilbur, looks destined for the market, the porker and his companion, Charlotte the spider, devise a way to get him off the hook. To coin a phrase.

With its themes of change, loyalty and sacrifice, Charlotte's Web is a poignant but uplifting story, and this is a big part of its appeal to co-director Nikki Henderson.

“It is such a beautiful story, sweet and sad and something that so many people are familiar with from their own childhoods.”

Henderson, who is directing the show alongside Charli Haskell, was keen to bring out the kindness and caring in the story.

“I love the strong theme of friendship that runs throughout the story, between animals, between animal and human and between the people. I have been familiar with the book since my childhood, but have never seen the film. The joy with the book is you create your own image in your mind as to what the world surrounding Wilbur looks like, and I have tried to recreate some of it in this production.”

Like Haskell, Henderson is rapt with the cast.

“From the moment they came in to audition, they have just embodied these very vibrant characters. It is particularly gratifying to see so many newcomers come in and flourish in their roles. Rehearsals have always been so much fun, with loads of laughter and a few tears at the very tender moments in the story.

“The cast take us through a range of emotions every time they step on stage.”

• Charlotte's Web, Evolution Theatre Company, 75 Disraeli Street, January 15-30. Tickets for 7pm shows and 3pm matinees, $28+bf for adults, $25+bf youth/seniors, from trybooking.com

COUNTRY WAYS: How will the stage production of Charlotte's Web play out when farmer John Arable (Andrew Stevens, second left) brings an axe to Wilbur's (Bea Grant, right) barn? There's only one way to find out. Pictures supplied
BARN LIFE: Danielle Siata as the compassionate and clever spider Charlotte considers Wilbur the pig's (Bea Grant) plight in Evolution Theatre Company's production of Charlotte's Web.
CAUSTIC: Could caustic-humoured rat Templeton (Fraser Grout) be making a pig of himself in the stage production of Charlotte's Web? There's only one way to find out.