Few books hold the timeless appeal of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. The classic tale of a precocious spider's rescue of a pig even found a second life as a children's-theater staple. But no matter how many times the story is adapted, it's fresh for each new generation."The message is a very important one: Love your neighbor -- or a spider will come down and eat you," chuckles actress DaNia Anderson, who plays Charlotte in the Arvada Center production. "In today's society, a lot of culture seems to be about fending for yourself or getting something."
Yet the show doesn't merely moralize. Director Claudia Carson, who filled the arachnid role in an Arvada Center production nine years ago, thinks that Charlotte's realistic spider costume carries its own fascination. "The challenge is to make her look like a spider and not a caricature," Carson says.
In this version, Charlotte stays in a box so that only her upper torso is visible. That's good for stagecraft, but tough on a performer.
"It was frustrating at first," Anderson says. "You're confined to a box the whole show. It takes some adjustment. Once, I got stuck when Charlotte's thorax -- which I wear like a backpack -- caught on the box. I had to work my way down slowly."
Despite such obstacles, "it's been a great experience," she says. "People seem moved."
Charlotte will spin her wordy web at 10 a.m. and noon today at the Arvada Center for the Arts, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard. Call 720-898-7200 or go to www.arvadacenter.org for tickets, $6, and performance times. The show runs through November 21.
Magic is for everyone, of course, but no one senses the wonder of it more than your kids, who probably don't get enough of the stuff in everyday life. Here's a chance to inject some awe into their technology-zapped universe -- and yours. Doves will fly (as will an indoor snowstorm, à la David Copperfield), coins will disappear, mentalists will read minds and rabbits will hop out of hats tonight at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway, as our own secret fraternity of sorcerers in the Mile High Magicians Society host MagicMania 2003: Fire and Ice, a pageant of prestidigitation by some of the area's top names in magic, from motivational master Earl Reum and the Great Loudini to promising newcomers Sean McCloskey and Michael Houdin (we don't know if Houdin conjured up his near-famous name or not). All of the family-friendly legerdemain begins at 7 p.m.; for tickets, $15 to $18, call 303-987-7875 or log on to www.lakewood.org. For more about the society, log on to milehighmagicians.com.