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BOOK TO LIFE

by Lenise Willis

Photo by Gray Cassell

All the world’s a stage, and so are books

lenise@yesweekly.com

Sometimes a good book isn’t just a book. It’s actually lifelike when you allow the words to carry your imagination away. Stories are so realistic, it’s as if the pictures could jump off the page and onto a stage “” which is exactly what they’re doing in Kernersville.

To excite children to read, Kernersville Little Theatre is bringing to life a childhood classic, Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White, and pairing the performance with a donation of books.

“I think that this makes (the kids’) learning experience more comprehensive,” said Rachel Schroeder, KLT president. “One of our hopes in this production is that we are able to reach some children who have never seen a live show before.”

The regular production is open to the public, but there will be a special performance on Friday, Nov. 21, for the second and fourth graders of Kernersville Elementary School. The theater’s fundraiser, Bring a Book to Life, aims to pay for the approximately 290 students to see the live local production, as well as receive either an activity book or a copy of the novel, depending on their reading level.

“Live theatre is more intimate and the kids can see the emotions of the characters up close and be drawn into the story,” Schroeder added about the project’s educational value. “So many studies have been done about the benefits of live theater for children’s creativity and emotional development, and many arts programs are the ones that suffer in today’s education environment when budgets are cut. Regardless of what career paths that the kids take, these are two life skills that can help them tremendously.”

Schroeder says that the show promises to be a visual stimulation for the kids, helping them to realize how fun a written story can be. And that it is, considering there will be adults dressed as animals on the stage.

“It’s challenging,” said Christoper Holland, who’s playing the part of Wilbur the pig. “It’s hard to imagine being so short, fat and four-legged when you are 6’1″ and very thin. It’s also hard to imagine being an animal that likes to snort, eat slop and roll around in the mud.”

But Holland has gladly taken on the challenge, as has the rest of the critter cast.

“Since we have added the element of the Bring a Book to Life project, the cast and crew have gotten even more passionate about the work they are doing on the show,” Schroeder said.

Of course, since KLT performs out of Kernersville Elementary’s auditorium, this isn’t the first time the theater has collaborated with the school. In the past, the theater has run other special projects, including a recent fundraiser for new auditorium chairs.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time we have done a full production for the kids,” Schroeder said. “When we picked Charlotte’s Web as part of our upcoming season, we wanted to think of a way to use this show to give back to the community. Since we perform in the James Fitzpatrick Auditorium, located at Kernersville Elementary School, it seemed like a good idea to offer the show to the kids there.”

The theater is also making a special production set, which can be easily dismantled, so that area schools can borrow the set pieces for future productions.

“Ben and Katrina Meeks have been making some magic happen with some PVC piping and painted canvases,” Schroeder said. “I also can’t say enough good things about the costumes that are being created by Amanda Coltrane. Her vision for the costumes balances the cast members looking like animals while still being able to see the expressions on their faces and hear what they have to say.”

There’ll be a few surprises in the costumes once the production hits the stage, including Easter grass, but neither Coltrane nor Schroeder has revealed its imaginative use.

So far the theater has earned 74 percent of its $3,299 goal. Anyone interested in making a donation can do so online at power2give.org until Monday, Nov. 17.

Checks can also be made out to Kernersville Little Theatre and mailed to P.O. Box 822, Kernersville, NC 27285.

“We would love for everyone to come see the show,” Schroeder added. “It is really for any age, one of those childhood classics that everyone remembers.” !

WANNA go?

KLT is performing Charlotte’s Web for the public Nov. 14-16, 21-23 at the James Fitzpatrick Auditorium, 512 W. Mountain St., Kernersville. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. For more information visit KLTheatre.com.

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