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State Street Theater Co. presents: Charlotte’s Web

Photos by Wendy Ringhoefer From left to right: Josie Ringhoefer (Fern Arable), Jim Templin (Wilbur).

Editor’s Note: Because of Gov. Tim Walz’s new COVID-19 restrictions, the production of “CHARLOTTE’S WEB” has been canceled. This article was published before the restrictions were announced.

NEW ULM — State Street Theater will present Charlotte’s Web this weekend. The play opened Friday, and will resume Saturday and Sunday at the State Street Theater Company at 1 N. State Street.

Performance times will be at 7 p.m. for Friday’s date and 2 p.m. show times for Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $5 for children 12-under and $10 for adults for tickets in advance. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $10 for children and $15 for adults.

The play is based on the book by E.B. White and is the story of Wilbur the pig and his friendship with Fern Arable, a little girl who adopts him along with Charlotte the spider.

When a pig gives birth to a litter of piglets at the Arable farm, Mr. Arable decides to slaughter Wilbur because he is the run, but Fern persuades him to let her keep him.

From left to right: Lee Zion (Templeton), Jon Smith (Lurvy), Marie Guggisburg (Goose).

After Wilbur is sent to live with Mr. Zuckerman, Fern visits Wilbur as often as she can and Wilbur befriends Charlotte, a talking spider who agrees to help Wilbur by spinning messages in her web, the first being “Some Pig”. The talking barnyard animals and story to save Wilbur has been a longtime hit for audiences nationwide.

The play is under the direction of Wendy Tuttle and Brenda Nielsen is the producer. Nielsen said that they typically aim for a children’s show around the Thanksgiving performance and Charlotte’s Web was an easy choice.

“It’s a lot of trouble to get the cast together for that weekend and Black Friday, so we decided to go for the weekend before and it’s just been a popular time for families to do this,” Nielsen said.

Vickie Tambornino will play Charlotte and Jim Templin plays Wilbur. Fern will be played by Josie Ringhoefer. While the performances are set for this weekend, it’s been a challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many actors were forced to play several roles and the challenges of making the set and costumes easy to switch came up during production of the set.

“Wendy and I, we kind of looked at each other and decided that we really didn’t want more than a dozen people on stage,” Nielsen said. “That way you could keep them spread out a bit, because obviously you can’t wear masks, all of us that are backstage will have our masks on. Everybody who auditioned knew that they would be playing multiple roles.”

Left to right: Michael Koester (Homer Zuckerman), Marie Guggisburg (Avery Arable), Deb Kaehler (Martha Arable), Tom Koester (John Arable), Jon Smith (Lurvy), Josie Ringhoefer (Fern Arable), Jim Templin (Wilbur), Vickie Tambornino (Charlotte), Lee Zion (Announcer)

Those who frequently attend the State Street Theater productions will recognize many of the names in Charlotte’s Web. Nielsen said it helps to have a veteran crew as well as some new members that join.

“I think it’s always nice to have a few people who have walked around the block a few times,” Nielsen said. “We certainly welcome and really celebrate new people coming, some will come in to audition and you don’t know them, but they just do a wonderful job and they’re just great people to work with. This time we’ve got a few of those, they’re a little newer. Jon Smith, who plays Lurvy, none of us really knew him, he’s been in a chorus for one of our musicals, but we didn’t know him very well. He is just amazing, he’s such good character actor.”

She said that they had to pay special attention to the set while working on the production.

“The set looks twice as big because we put it in little stations so we could keep actors farther apart, they don’t touch each other during the show,” Nielsen said. “It’s some new exercises for a lot of actors because they’re not used to that.”

She said she’s proud of the crew for working well together and she’s looking forward to the performances. It’s been a challenge during the pandemic, but everyone has worked well together and everyone is doing whatever it takes to make sure the performances can go on.

“They’re working really hard to stay healthy,” Nielsen said. “Everybody has to sign in every day and we do a verbal screening every time you walk in the building and they’re all being really good about it.”

She said that those attending will need to wear a mask or face shield and sign in.

“We have a pretty comprehensive plan for distancing at the theather,” she said. “People will be seated, some seats you can sit in, other seats you can’t. They have to wear a mask or face shield and they have to sign in too in case something happens, we can at least give as much information to the public health services so they can do what they have to do.”

Web cast

• Fern Arable: Josie Ringhoefer

• John Arable: Tom Kaehler

• Martha Arable: Deb Kaehler

• Avery Arable: Marie Guggisberg

• Lurvy: Jon Smith

• Wilbur: Jim Templin

• Templeton: Lee Zion

• Charlotte: Vickie Tambornino

• Goose: Marie Guggisberg

• Gander: Michael Koester

• Sheep: Tom Kaehler

• Lamb: Deb Kaehler

• Reporter: Jon Smith

• Announcer: Lee Zion

• Uncle: Jon Smith

• Chorus: Marie Guggisberg,

Deb Kaehler,

Michael Koester

Josie Ringhoefer,

Tom Kaehler,

Lee Zion, Jon Smith

• Judges: Michael Koester,

JonSmith,

Lee Zion

• Spectators: Marie Guggisberg,

Deb Kaehler

• Fairgoer: Jon Smith

Production Team

• Director: Wendy Tuttle

• Producer: Brenda Nielsen

• Stage Manager: Jerilyn Kjelberg

• Set Design: Sheldon Rieke

• Set Construction: Deb Kaehler,

Tom Kaehler,

Jeff Nielson

• Set painting and design:

Arlen Stewart,

Judy Sellner,

Marlyn Sellner,

Brenda Nielsen

• Costum Design:

Sara Covich,

Vickie Tambornino,

Brenda Nielsen

• Sound: Nate Sperl

• Lights: Alex Wieffel

• Tech Support: Jay Tambornino

• Photographer: Wendy Ringhoefer

• Backstage Support:

Sara Covich,

Michelle Gag

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