Charlotte’s Web: More Than Just a Play

The cast of Charlotte’s Web finds a way to give back.

The big red barn with white ropes of spiderweb dominates the stage. Below, actors are getting into character, moving and making noises like animals. However this show is about more than just what’s happening on stage, but also helping others–those in Puerto Rico.

The City High Drama Department will be presenting their fall play “Charlotte’s Web” from November 3-5. This year the drama department has decided to adopt a mission and their goal is to raise money for Puerto Rico following the hurricane that wiped much of the island’s resources, homes and electricity. Stage Manager Lindy Rublaitus ‘19 reflects on what this goal has meant to her.

“We have a very well rounded cast here and by knowing what all is happening around the world we thought we should give back,” Lindy Rublaitus ’19 said. “I feel like I’m doing something way better than just a show. [Raising funds for Puerto Rico] is giving me a purpose and the actors a purpose and it’s making us do this for something so much more.”

The drama department is teaming up with the Hispanic Foundation, which is a relief organization that was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father. Miranda is best known for his Broadway hit “Hamilton.” He has been supporting this relief effort by alerting others to the circumstances in Puerto Rico. The drama department plans to raise at least $1,000 through financial donations, as well as a portion of the proceeds.

As well as planning to raise money, the cast of Charlotte’s Web has been hard at work. They have been preparing since September and their rehearsals have been anything but ordinary. The cast was all part of a movement workshop directed by Paul Kalina, head of acting at the University of Iowa.

“We had a movement workshop where we did things that our animal character would do like walk around on all fours,” Thomas Brands ‘19, said. “It was kind of weird but it really helped us get into our animal characters.”

A lot of focus has gone into understanding each person’s part and how they can bring out that character, whether they are human or animal. The movement rehearsals sought to teach each person how to personify their character through the way carried themselves or how that character would think or feel.

Similarly another new aspect for many members of the cast is the use of the flying system: Flying by Floy. City High Drama hired the Las Vegas-based theatrical fly rigging company as another way to give each character more dimension and create a stunning visual.

“I’m afraid of heights,” Claire Green ‘19 said, “but I’d say I’m more excited than nervous.”

Through all of the hours spent in rehearsal and shared experiences the members of the cast have grown close.

“I’ve honestly enjoyed just how much of a family we are, the tech and the actors,” Green said. “Everyone has a good time and was casted so well. Everyone is so talented and fun to work with.”

The play has also welcomed many new faces to the theater department who bring their own ideas and creativity.

“This has been a great cast because it’s a diverse mix of ages. There are a lot of freshman and sophomores who are new to theater here and there are also some City High theater veterans and it’s cool to see everyone interact and get along really well,” Reese Hill ‘20 said.

As City High Drama continues to work hard in preparation, they hope to wow the audience as well as serve a good purpose through supporting Puerto Rico.

“I think [the audience will] be surprised. We get out and get into the audience for a portion of the show and it’s exciting. You never know what’s going to come from the ceiling or the sides of the stage, Troy Peters, Director, said.”