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Shakespeare company to present ‘Charlotte’s Web’

Even though it is based on a children’s story, the directors of the upcoming production of “Charlotte’s Web” view the show as a conduit to talk about acceptance and tolerance for all ages.

“I think there is one real clear message on how we accept our differences,” said Rick Pessagno, co-director of “Charlotte’s Web.” “I think it is relevant to the bullying situation we have going on. Despite the differences between a spider and a pig, why can’t they be friends? Despite color, religious background or sexual orientation, why can’t we have tolerance and acceptance?”

“Charlotte’s Web” is scheduled to open at 7:30 p.m. April 19 at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway.

The show, put on by the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, is slated to continue at 7:30 p.m. April 20, 26 and 27 and at 4 p.m. April 21 and 28. Tickets are $10.

Based on the children’s book by E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web” tells the story of a friendship between a barn spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered, Charlotte writes a message in her webbing — and repeatedly writes messages throughout the story — to save him.

“Definitely a lot of nostalgia for some people,” Pessagno said.

The book was transformed into a Broadway musical.

Michael Gill, president of Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, said the story is about a universal friendship told in a funny, lighthearted way.

“I think the message is well-crafted,” he said. “It hits everyone, children and adults alike, and it does it in an entertaining way.”

The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company contacted Pessagno and his wife, Tammy, to direct the show.

“It’s always fun to dive into a piece you haven’t done before,” Pessagno said. “I get to learn about the piece and the intention of the author.”

Even though the production is developing in rehearsals, Pessagno said his favorite piece in the show so far is the song “Who Says We Can’t Be Friends.”

“It speaks out to the moral of the story,” he said.

With Las Vegas having many actors to draw from because of its vast entertainment venues, Gill said there was a lot of talent wanting to be a part of the performance.

“We had over 150 people audition,” Gill said. “But we only had 25 slots, so we weren’t able to get everyone we wanted. But we were certainly thrilled about the turnout.”

Pessagno added that it’s a mixture of talent between youth and adults, which includes a cast member from “Jubilee!” and actors from Opportunity Village and Las Vegas Academy.

Talent isn’t limited to the actors. From the orchestra to the set designers, Gill said the organization used resources to make sure “Charlotte’s Web” meets expectations.

“Each year, we try to raise the bar and make things better,” he said. “We are using more professionals.”

The stage crew and designers have worked on Las Vegas shows such as “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular,” which closed Sept. 2 at The Venetian.

Gill said the production is stepping away from doing music tracks, where background music is prerecorded, in favor of a live orchestra.

Pessagno added that having a live orchestra is always a preferred choice of audience members and actors.

This isn’t the first time the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company is putting on a production in the Henderson Pavilion. Last spring, it did “Cinderella.”

“We love the pavilion and the city of Henderson,” Gill said. “It’s a first-class venue. We are thrilled to have the city as a partner.”

For more information, visit hendersonlive.com.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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