Northern Starz Children’s Theatre is back … and in the backyard.
After being shut down since March due to the coronavirus, rehearsals have begun at the Ramsey theater for the upcoming showing of “Charlotte’s Web” July 16-18, with the production preparing to take place outdoors.
“We’re super excited,” Northern Starz Executive Director Rachel Bohnsack said. “The kids have been just wanting to get back in the theater and get back to doing theater. We actually did start a couple of different rehearsals and a project for kids with special needs. That was super fun to watch because for a lot of the kids we work with it was literally their first trip out in three months. For them to choose us for that warms our heart and makes us feel really good, that we’re doing some really good things. Everyone is super excited.”
Northern Starz is taking strong safety precautions and moving slowly as it reopens and prepares for summer shows and classes.
“It’s definitely different,” Bohnsack said. “We’re being socially responsible, we’re making sure the kids are distancing. We’re also doing it in groups of 10 or less, not 25 for a couple more weeks still. All of the rehearsals are outside, weather permitting, and if we go inside we have it taped off. We have a crew to clean and disinfect everything, we’re taking temperatures and asking our five illness preventative questions for all the students and adults in the shows.”
“Charlotte’s Web” will take place Thursday through Saturday, July 16-18, at 7 p.m. each night, with a makeup show if necessary on Sunday, July 19, at 2 p.m. if there is a postponement due to inclement weather. Audience members can bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for seating, and a food truck will also be available an hour prior to the start of each show, another new feature with the outdoor setting.
“The show will be outside in the backyard,” Bohnsack said. “It’s something we’ve never done before, so the kids are excited.
“We’re not going to mandate everyone will sit on an ‘X,’ but it’s mostly families attending, so we’re hoping families sit together. This year we have food trucks, we’ll have some food available about an hour before the show. That will be kind of fun and a little different. Hopefully it’s a nice day!”
“Charlotte’s Web” tells the classic story originally written by E.B. White and adapted by Joseph Robinette of a pig named Wilbur and a barn spider named Charlotte. The pair become friends, and Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur in her web to help convince the farmer to let Wilbur live.
It’s a fun and fitting selection for the first show back and an outdoor performance.
“We tried to choose a story where we didn’t have to do a lot of props and sets, and we could do outside and have it be somewhat realistic,” Bohnsack said. “No big screens, no lights.
“I’ve done this version of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ before and it’s a really good version of the original book. It’s just a super cute story that most kids know. This is our Adult Community Troope doing theater for young audiences. We wanted it to be a name kids know and adults know so the kids would really enjoy it.”
The event is pre-registration only at northernstarz.org/charlottes-web-tickets, with tickets purchased at the door the day of the event.