“The universal appeal of the show is unique,” said Justin Dilley “That’s very rare. It’s usually only for a very specific audience.”
Dilley is directing a 17-member cast in the Main Street Kids’ production of the musical adaptation of the famed children’s book about a “runt” pig saved by a spider’s actions. Performances are scheduled for Friday, March 1 through 9, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.
Lilly Rhea, 13, daughter of Joe and Ginger Rhea of Dallas, portrays the title character. She said she sought the part because she liked the character and had never been in a play’s lead role.
“It’s just a cool part,” she said.
Dilley is a recent transplant from New York and a longtime performer and director. He said the play’s farm setting reminded him of his childhood years in rural Ohio.
“The thing that drew me to it is it’s about friendship, and moving on,” he said.
The cast’s comparatively small size allows some characters to show their talents more so than in larger casts, Dilley said.
Performers range in age from 5 to 17, and are in the position of being able to get motivation for their roles from recent experiences, he said.
“I think it’s a ‘growing up’ story,” Dilley said.
The play also deals with the issue of death in a way that young audience members will be able to comprehend, he said. One key character dies but the act is explained rather than portrayed on stage, he said.
“It’s definitely a heavier subject matter [but] it’s a part of life,” Dilley said.
The show features a story adaptation by Joseph Robinette and music and lyrics by Charles Strouse, whose other works included “Bye, Bye Birdie,” and “Annie.”
Cast members include Rhea and Brennan Lewis as Wilbur. Others in the cast include Ava Albachiaro, Braiden Brown, Katie Jennings, Madison Jones, Madi Kelly, Samantha Kiser, Dylan Kilgore, Braden Lee, Kathleen McBride, Hannah Page, Chloe Pergrem, Kalab Quinn, Olivia Slater, Trinity Thompson, Elliott Westbrook, Caelan Wilson and Bryn Wood.