“Charlotte’s Web”: An Amazing Online Production


Charlotte communicating with Wilbur to write a message to Homer Zuckerman so that Wilbur doesn’t get killed.

By Luca Hatzopoulos, Managing and Social Media Editor

On Oct. 23 through the 25, the Niles West Theatre virtually performed their first show of the year, “Charlotte’s Web”. When signing up for tickets through a google form, you got an email sent to you the day prior which included the link to the show, and a viewing password which you had to use in order to watch it so others who didn’t sign up, couldn’t access the viewing.

For the theatre department, switching from a literal stage to a green screen backdrop on a laptop, was a drastic difference but one they executed greatly. Although you miss out on many aspects you would experience with viewing a live performance such as emotion, lighting, and effects, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this production and think they made the most of the situation they were in.

The way the production went was, “The actors would come and pick them up [the costumes] from the school. They also had to pick up green screens and stage lights. Then we transitioned into filming week where we just focused on filming our scenes and working on the small details,” stage manager Dashna Benjamin said. “Usually during a filming run, all the designers would be present in a zoom and make sure all the actor’s filming set up looks right, costume wise, lighting wise, scenic wise, and so on. Then, all the actors would individually film that specific scene in front of the green screens, while still being on zoom. After we get a few takes, we move to the next scene and repeat that process for a couple hours.”

Starting their online production on Oct. 10, in just two weeks the entire theatre crew put on an amazing performance during these difficult and unprecedented times.

“I think the Niles West Theatre used innovative ways to show this piece. It’s very hard to film a show online but they did the best they could with the limited resources they had, I enjoyed the show,” junior Ibrahem Abdulla said.

With sophomore Ellie Evens as a returning actress and this time with a lead role, playing Wilbur the piglet, and senior Janay Moncrief playing as Charlotte, the spider, this duo really went well together on screen. The play told the story of Wilbur and how he befriends Charlotte, who helps him evade being slaughtered by the farmer, also known as Homer Zuckerman. Along the way, Wilbur learns more about the other animals living in the farm with him and tries to get them to like him as he attempts to befriend them.

It definitely wasn’t easy trying to put on a whole theatre production virtually, but with hard work from everyone involved, it was enjoyable to the actors.

“It was definitely out of character for me to try to do a show on my own as someone who regularly does live theatre, but the end result was so fulfilling. There were hard days of filming and rehearsal, but there were also really productive and fun days. If this process has taught me anything, it is that the theatre world is capable of anything and that there will always be a way to make art,” Moncrief said.

All around, the Niles West Theatre didn’t disappoint once again and I’d give the show a 10/10. I want to applaud the entire crew and everyone involved in the making of it, for producing yet another wonderful performance and this time, through the difficulty of communicating through computer screens. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing from the comfort of my own home as well!