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Gulfport Little Thearter’s children’s production of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is a delight

Analise Hoeg, Cassidy Spann, Olivia Ruiz, Olivia Hernstrom, Morgan Valentine and Mackenzie Valentine, front lying down, rehearse for ‘Charlotte’s Web’ at Gulfport Little Theater.
Analise Hoeg, Cassidy Spann, Olivia Ruiz, Olivia Hernstrom, Morgan Valentine and Mackenzie Valentine, front lying down, rehearse for ‘Charlotte’s Web’ at Gulfport Little Theater. Special to the Sun Herald

Gulfport Little Theater’s production of “Charlotte’s Web” transports the audience out of the city and onto a farm where a pig named Wilbur, born a runt, is saved from slaughter.

The children’s production is directed by Cal Walters and produced by Lori Groveof and is an adaptation of E.B. White’s classic book, which also was the basis for the 1973 animated film of the same name.

Wilbur makes friends on Mr. Zuckerman’s farm, including the sage grey spider named Charlotte, who helps him hatch a plan to keep him off the dinner table come season’s end.

Like Charlotte’s plan, this show runs smoothly from the start. The engagingly animated Olivia Ruiz, a veteran of the GLT stage, owns the role of Wilbur, hitting just the right notes demanded of that character.

As Charlotte, Annie Goodman takes on a challenging role, navigating difficult vocal and acting assignments while making a spider one of the play’s more loveable characters.

Few actors will offer more enjoyable exhibitions on the coastal stage than Goodman and Ruiz do in this production. As Fern, the talented Bridey Walters warbles far more expertly than anyone would expect from such a youthful singer.

Director Walters and Jay Lynn designed an original representational set that establishes two different farms and a county fair in a rural countryside.

The beautifully painted set gives the audience a sense of being out in the open where they can almost feel the gentle breezes in their hair and the sunlight dancing on their faces.

Walter’s choreography and Cherie Ruff’s musical direction, energetically rendered by the cast of children, enhance a moving score by Charles Strouse, who also penned the musical scores to “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Annie.”

There’s even technical innovation with an animated web designed by Walters, Lynn and Tricia Allen, engineered to perfection by light and sound board operators Janice Murphy and Bonnie Hoag, respectively. Crystal Locklar’s costumes provide ideal finishing touches to a well-coordinated show.

Yale-educated, veteran director Walters is earning a well-deserved reputation as the go-to person to head up successful children’s shows on the Coast.

You may be sure that the kids are making the most of their opportunities in “Charlotte’s Web,” giving Coast audiences a winning musical with a very large heart.

Gulfport Little Theater’s production of ‘Charlotte’s Web’

When: Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. through Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.

Where: Gulfport Little Theater 2600 13th Ave., Gulfport

Who: Cast of Charlotte’s Web-Bridey Walters, Madison Owen, Errika Miller, Luke Skrmetta, Valerie Wagner, Olivia Marcum, Sam Lynn, Olivia Ruiz, Mackenzie Valentine, Mia Cheeley, Isabel Ruiz, Mamie Byrd, Cassidy Spann, Analise Hoeg, Olivia Hernstrom, Morgan Valentine, Paul Fraiser, Madison Valentine, Annie Bartos, Sienna Cornell, Alicia Joy Young, Charlotte Connolly, Carolyn Connolly, Abigail Locklar, Juliette Locklar, Sidney Grove, Hannah Walters, Julieonna Lewis, Abigail Hendrick.

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