Lake Forest youngsters absorb play’s message
Doug Pawlik, left, plays the role of Wilbur and Charlotte Ostrow plays Fern during a performance of "Charlotte's Web" for students and faculty at Sheridan School Oct. 18 in Lake Forest. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 29, 2012 3:04PM
LAKE FOREST — They laughed loudest at the acrobatic antics of Wilbur the pig and watched as he discovered the importance of life during a musical performance of “Charlotte’s Web.”
Clad in pink overalls, high-top gym shoes and a piggy skull cap, the lovable character came alive as Sheridan Elementary School’s more than 250 students viewed the live performance in the school gym on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 18.
It was the fifth and final performance of E.B. White’s children’s classic by the American Eagle Shows in District 67. The eight-member cast sang and danced their way through the 60-year-old story in which Charlotte the spider saves Wilbur, the runt of the litter, from slaughter. The troupe performed twice at Everett School on Tuesday, Oct. 16, and twice at Cherokee School on Thursday, Oct. 18, before heading to Everett for its finale.
American Eagle Shows owner Linda Madonia said the company has performed in schools, churches and other assemblies for 20 years and has staged “Charlotte’s Web” for kindergarten through fourth-grade groups for the past 18 years.
Doug Pawlik, who played Wilbur, predicts the show will remain popular for many more.
“The story is still important. It resonates with kids because there are a lot of lessons in it,” Pawlik said.
The exercise on friendship, sacrifice and love told in a culturally enriching format is why the Spirit of 67 Foundation awarded a grant to fund the five performances.
“A large percentage of our money goes to fine arts programs,” said Missy Burger, president of District 67’s Association of Parents and Teachers.
“In our community, our parents have said it is important to them that we expose their children to theater to enrich and enhance the curriculum.”
Sheridan teacher Kim Glynn said she appreciates the lessons in art and performance offered the students.
“We do a lot with trying to work on performance skills and speaking in front of people,” Glynn said. “That’s part of our oral language curriculum from kindergarten on. This was a chance for them to see that in action.”