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Botelle Students Perform ‘Charlotte’s Web’

By Lauren Valentino

Wilbur was played by Ginny DeCerbo.

The curtain rose for Botelle School’s performance of “Charlotte’s Web” on Thursday, April 6 and the audience—young, old and in-between—was entertained by this long-time favorite story of an unlikely friendship between a young pig and a wise spider.

Directed by Bruce Connelly and Elizabeth Allyn as part of the Norfolk After School Program, the student actors had just three weeks to memorize their lines, learn how to move in and out of each scene and gather items from home for costumes and scenery. The veteran of more than a dozen productions, Connelly travels to Norfolk from his home in New York City to bring his love of theater and story to Botelle students.

Connelly chooses a piece of literature, which may be more or less well-known, and brings the cast along as a team to tell the story to the audience. Allyn says, “It’s not about the props, scenery or costumes for Bruce. It’s about telling the story.” However; one prop, a metal shopping cart, makes an appearance in each production. This year, the shopping cart was the truck Mr. Zuckerman drove to bring Wilbur to the fair.

Costumes had to be simple enough to change into and out of quickly.

Costumes are homemade by the children. Because many of the students play multiple roles, the costumes must be simple enough to change into and out of quickly. There are no adults behind the scenes prompting the young actors during the play. It is truly a student-led performance.

And perform they did. “Mr. Connelly gets to know each child and has a wonderful gift for casting each one in a role that suits their personality,” says Allyn. The friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur was brought to life by Paige Dzenutis and Ginny DeCerbo. Mackenzie Casey was Fern, the young girl who raised Wilbur, and Grayson Milanese was Templeton, the ornery rat. Fern’s parents were played by Stephanie Nejako and Ben Crone. Noah Green and Elizabeth Burn were Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerman, and Lurvy, the faithful farm hand, was played by Timothy Fiester.

Playing multiple roles were the talented Zachary Allen, Carley Bannerman, Liam Heller, Leif Johnson, Carter Nadeau, Emily Ohmen and Olivia Olsen.

Photos by Bruce Frisch.

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