When Charlotte the spider wrote a message in her web to save the life of her friend, Wilbur the pig, the Weekly Chronicle documented the mysterious words that led the pig to the fame that saved him from the chopping block.
So goes the story of the play “Charlotte’s Web,” dramatized by Joseph Robinette and based on the children’s book by E. B. White, originally published in 1952.
When Vadnais Heights 13-year-old Soren Miller was cast as Wilbur the pig in Stages Theatre Company’s fall production of the play, the weekly Vadnais Heights Press documented the life of the middle school actor, who has a message to share.
Soren, an eighth-grader at Chippewa Middle School, is playing an unassuming and humble pig through October.
Last year, he was on tour on Broadway in “Matilda the Musical,” as major supporting character Bruce. He enrolled in online school while touring 17 cities across the U.S. for several months. His mother Amy and sister Willow, 6, came along. “We follow our kids’ dreams,” Amy said. He was one of 13 children performers. He rehearsed in New York for a month. One of his stops was the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
His interest in theater began when he was eight and played an extra in North Heights Lutheran Church’s “All Things New” Easter play in Arden Hills with family and friends. His older brother Parker, 17, played a part in inspiring him toward theater, he said. Parker still acts as well. Soren quickly moved from being an extra in church shows to the Guthrie Theater, playing a street kid in “A Christmas Carol” in 2013. “I decided to go for it and see what I can do,” he remembered.
Since then, he has performed in a dozen shows on and off Broadway and taken theater training. Over the years Miller has learned that auditioning for roles is about finding the right person for the part, not just who can sing or act the best. “If you didn’t get the role, it wasn’t meant for you,” he noted.
Miller said he hoped to play Wilbur when he auditioned for “Charlotte’s Web.” He likes the message of friendship and “that you should put others before yourself,” he said. “I feel that is really important to teach people.”
When Wilbur realized his life was destined to be short-lived and turned into ham, Charlotte the spider, who lived by his stall in the barn, spent her last energy to spin words in her web to convince the humans to spare Wilbur.
“Although it is a story between a pig and a spider, it connects us to our basic humanity,” said Director Jeannine Coulombe. “It is the people in our lives, those that we love, that make life worth living. It isn’t just what friends do for us but also what we do for our friends that is important.”
Stages Theatre Company, located in Hopkins, is one of the largest professional theaters for young audiences in the country. It is in its 35th year. “Charlotte’s Web” runs through Oct. 21. For more information visit stagestheatre.org or call 952-979-1111.