By Rick Morwick
Besides being a fan of the story, Stella Neale has a host of reasons for embracing the role of Wilbur in Westfield Playhouse’s production of “Charlotte’s Web.”
Wilbur, after all, has wit, charm, a caring heart and graceful moves — uncommon characteristics for a pig.
“I like playing the role of Wilbur because he is a funny character and he helps the other animals become friends with each other,” said Neale, a 10-year-old Westfield resident. “I am excited to use some of my gymnastics skills on stage. I also love having a leading role because I am learning a lot, and acting is fun.”
Although Neale is still learning her craft, she is no stranger to it — or to Westfield Playhouse. She portrayed Elizabeth Walton in last year’s production of “The Homecoming: Waltons’ Christmas Story” at the theater.
A fifth-grader at Westfield Intermediate School, Neale has taken acting classes at, among other places, the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel and played the orphan Tessie in a Westfield Theatre camp production of “Annie.”
Now, Neale looks forward to enhancing her acting resume with a lead role in “Charlotte’s Web,” presented by Main Street Productions at Westfield Playhouse, 1836 SR 32 West, Westfield.
Neale is part of a cast of 30 youths ranging in age from 4 to 16, including several from Hamilton County.
“I like getting to know everyone in the cast during rehearsals,” Neale said. “‘Charlotte’s Web’ is such a great story about friendship. (The community) should definitely come to the show because it will make you laugh. You will really enjoy it.”
Based on an adaptation of the classic 1952 children’s novel by E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web” is directed by Hamilton County-area theater veteran Brandi Davis. A fan of the novel, which centers on a spider, Charlotte, and her efforts to save Wilbur from being slaughtered, Davis is directing “Charlotte’s Web” for the first time.
“I like the deeper story of friendship,” Davis said. “Wilbur and Charlotte become friends despite their differences, some of which don’t always make Wilbur comfortable. For example, she eats bugs and he tends toward a more vegetarian diet. Their friendship even goes into the second generation as some of Charlotte’s children decide to stay with Wilbur and grow up on the farm.”
Other local actors with lead roles include Audrey Duprey (Lawrence) as Charlotte; Maya Davis (Westfield) as Fern; Charlie Haas (Carmel) as Templeton; Sam Vrtismarsh (Carmel) as Avery; and Elizabeth Enderle (Westfield) as Homer Zuckerman.
What: “Charlotte’s Web,” presented by Main Street Productions
Where: Westfield Playhouse, 1836 SR 32 West, Westfield.
Dates and times: July 20-21, 7:30 p.m.; July 22, 2:30 p.m.; July 27-28, 7:30 p.m.; and July 29, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: Visit westfieldplayhouse.org.