‘Charlotte’s Web: The Musical’ on stage in Long Lake

The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts is putting on its final touches for this weekend’s Living-Able production of “Charlotte’s Web: The Musical,” which prompts the audience to remember that no matter their differences, friendships can happen anywhere.

According to Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts’ Artist Associate Danielle Melendez, the AC and Sunmount Development Disabilities Services Offices has collaborated for about five years on a yearly theatrical production to foster the arts with DDSO clients by bringing them together with a cast of local actors.

This year’s production of “Charlotte’s Web” begins when a young girl named Fern saves a newborn pig born on her family farm. Fern cares for this runt she names Wilbur, but later has to sell her pig to neighbor Homer Zuckerman. Though Wilbur is welcomed into his new home by the other barn animals, he is lonely at night. A voice claiming to be his friend, comforts him throughout the evening. In the morning, he is shocked to discover his friend is a spider named Charlotte.

The barnyard animals wake and begin discussing the fate of this new spring pig, which is sure to become bacon come autumn. Charlotte stands up for her new friend and vows to save him. At the encouragement of the other animals, Wilbur tries to run away, but clever Charlotte spins the words “Some Pig” into her web, which is noticed by the farmhands and Zukermans. Charlotte comes to her friend’s aid again and spins the word “Terrific” into her web to describe Wilbur to the Zukermans, the townspeople and the local press who help spread the word about this special pig.

Throughout the various acts, the play continues to demonstrate the power words have to sway opinion, build friendships or separate those that are viewed as different. The music will hit the heartstrings with songs such as “Who says we can’t be friends” and “You’re you” and a touch on the nostalgic with “County Fair.”

The next stop for Wilbur is the county fair where a larger pig wins the blue ribbon, resurrecting Wilber’s worries about his future. Faithful friend Charlotte writes another word, “Humble,” creating another public stir that leads to Wilbur winning a special medal. Wilbur learns that Charlotte won’t be returning to the Zucherman’s barn and vows to protect all 514 babies (eggs) and never forget his friend.

“Once the Art Center knows the show, I work with Natalie Luzford who heads the program with DDSO,” Melendez said. “We work together to figure out the best way for her clients to be involved. We like to play to their strengths and make sure we give them things in the show that we know they’re comfortable handling.”

Depending on the size of the DDSO group, Melendez will hold separate rehearsals for the DDSO consumers allowing them to explore the space and become comfortable with the roles before bringing in the rest of the cast.

“This play is about embracing differences, friendship and not being afraid,” Melendez said. “We want to use art to reach out and embrace, to open up different aspects of art to everyone.”

This year’s production of “Charlotte’s Web: The Musical” is directed by Danielle Melendez, with set, lighting and sound design by Joe Perreault, costume design by Danielle Melendez, stage manager Mark Shaw and a cast of 26 actors ranging in age from six to adult hailing from Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake and Old Forge.