Kali Avery loves playing the title character in “Charlotte’s Web.”
But that doesn’t mean she’s now a fan of arachnids.
“My fear of spiders in real life is absolutely off the charts,” she said. “If I see a spider in my bedroom, I simply will not sleep in there.
“I would like to say my role changed the way I see spiders in general, but it would not be true. I have a deep amount of respect for them and their work, but I still would like some distance — respectfully, of course.”
Avery, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, was attracted to this role in the Lakeside Players production due to her love of the classic tale.
“I read the story as a child multiple times,” she said. “I owe it to my mother for having it available for me, as it was one of her favorite stories when she was younger.”
She also appreciates playing a familiar role.
“As someone who is at the beginning of her acting career,” Avery said, “I figured it would be easier for me to start with a story I grew up reading as a kid. I’ve loved ‘Charlotte’s Web’ for as long as I can remember.”
E.B. White’s children’s book, first published in 1952 and still popular today, follows the unlikely friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur. She’s a spider living in a barn. He’s a pig at the farm.
When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered, Charlotte writes messages in her web praising him, to persuade the farmer to let the now-famous pig live.
Avery also worked on giving Charlotte more of a backstory than appears in the novel.
“I was able to work on finding out who this spider really was, outside of the storyline of the play: What she did in her free time, what she was doing before Wilbur arrived, the types of relationships she had with the other animals in the barn,” she said.
Working with Jordan Lynn, who plays Wilbur, Avery “built the chemistry between Charlotte and Wilbur over time. It was really important that we both understood the comfort and closeness of their friendship, and I am really happy with the results.”
Avery credits Lynn “for being such an excellent Wilbur and for letting our friendship create the perfect chemistry in our story” — a sentiment shared by Chris Brouton, the show’s director.
“The best thing about this production,” he said, “is that we have all generations represented in our cast. There are people ranging in age from 7 to 70, and all the generations have a significant part in the show.”
The 35-member cast also features “a lot of families who are working together in the show,” Brouton added.
This is not Brouton’s first involvement with “Charlotte’s Web,” a story he’s “always loved. I was in a production in college, and I co-directed the show here in 2015 with my wife, Julie.”
This time, Brouton is assisted in directing by Jacob Machado, with Becky Kafka as stage manager.
The well-loved story, Brouton said, “gives all the characters the chance to change. Wilbur starts out as a baby and grows up during the show, and other characters change, too.”
The actors portray animals “through costuming, but nothing too over the top,” Brouton said.
For her stab at playing a spider, Avery finds “creating this character through costume is probably my favorite part. Having eight arms is definitely neat. In terms of makeup, I do a normal humanoid look, but with dark eye shadow and red lips. Charlotte, to me, is someone who would have a sort of formal style.”
“I also give her some physical choices,” she added, “such as how bubbly she is to Wilbur, how she writes in her web, and of course the way she would scurry away if a human were to appear in the barn. As sleek and formal as I like her to look, Charlotte’s personality is bright and fun.”
The focus on kinship is a huge reason why this story remains timeless, Avery said.
“A pig and a spider being friends? It’s strange, but this particular friendship is very special due to Charlotte and Wilbur’s abilities to love their differences,” she said. “Their personalities are similar, but they have different life experiences. This gives them opportunities to learn from each other, and I think their fascination with one another initially derived from this. Over time, of course, their friendship formed the closest bond they will ever know.
“I think it is something we can all learn from. This story is a beautiful one that I hope is still shared with children now.”
Lakeside Players is closing its season with this show, offering audience members “a chance to squeeze in some theater before Memorial Day,” Brouton said.
Even people who know the story “will get choked up a bit,” he added. “You see the circle of life in this show, and it’s really touching.”
What you’ll also see?
“I think audience members will find all the children to be adorable,” Avery said. “The costumes definitely help. I also believe the closeness within our cast and crew makes this show even more special.”
The 18-year-old Kenosha man accused of shooting his 3-year-old sister inside their house last week has been formally charged and held on a $25,000 cash bond.
Christian J. Koleske, already a convicted felon, was charged Friday afternoon with felonies of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by an adjudicated felon, neglecting a child with a consequence of great bodily harm, and solicitation of harboring or aiding a felon by falsifying information in Kenosha County Circuit Court.
Koleske made his initial appearance at Intake Court before interim Court Commissioner Donald Bielski. He faces decades in prison if convicted of all charges.
A preliminary hearing is set for May 26.
A charge of child neglect was also referred for 19-year-old Dynasty Cooper by Kenosha Police. Cooper, a Kenosha resident, was allegedly present during the shooting but has not yet been formally charged.
Just before 11 a.m. on May 12 Kenosha Police were notified that a 3-year-old girl had been shot in a house in the 5100 block of 29th Avenue. Upon arrival, officers located the child in a bedroom on a bed crying and propped up on a pillow with a bath towel draped over her left leg, according to the criminal complaint.
When officers removed the towel they reportedly found a gunshot wound to the left thigh. Immediate first aid was administered as officers secured the shooting scene.
Earlier this week, Kenosha Police indicated that the gun involved in the incident had “mysteriously disappeared” long before police were notified of the shooting.
Koleske, a Bradford High School student, was reportedly not cooperative with police upon arrival. Once inside an officer reportedly found fresh blood next to a bed, a projectile next to an expended casing, the odor of gunpowder from a freshly fired firearm and a slight mist/smoke that eventually cleared that was attributed to the smoke from a fired gun.
When questioned Koleske reportedly denied that there was any gun and claimed the child did not get shot in the house but that they heard the gunshot outside. Officers found no bullet strikes from outside the residence.
Another officer reportedly found in the room a bullet defect in the wood floor and another defect on the lamp as if the bullet had ricocheted off the floor and into the lamp.
Koleske, according to the complaint, eventually seemed to agree that the shooting was an accident and that after his sister was shot he tried to take care of her by giving her Tylenol and wrapping the wound with a towel, and that he even tried using popsicles to help with the pain and slow the bruising. Koleske then reportedly called his mother and told her what happened and then his mother called his grandmother who ultimately called 911.
According to the criminal complaint, Koleske said that because he was on probation he was never going to call the police or 911 and did not want to go to jail.
Cooper, according to the complaint, said Koleske sold the gun to one of her relatives before police arrived.
Attorney Jessica Krejcarek appeared for the state and requested a $50,000 cash bond Friday at Intake Court. Attorney Chad Shamali served as Koleske’s defense attorney.
“There was a firearm in the home when he was watching his 3-year-old sister. That in handling that firearm he ended up shooting his 3-year-old sister in the leg and then instead of summing medical help or the police to assist he elected to call his mother who then called the grandmother. So it took the approximately 10 to 15 minutes for the grandmother to make the decision to call the police to get services for this gun shot wound,” Krejcarek said.
Before police arrived Krejcarek said Koleske, who was on probation, “was get the firearm out of the home by having someone come to the house to pick it up to get it out of there before anyone else arrived to render assistance.”
“Given the violent nature of the offense, the fact that he was an adjudicated felon in possession of a firearm as well as the seriousness of the injury I do believe that a high cash bond is warranted,” Krejcarek said adding has a very lengthy criminal history.
Shamali, however, asked for a minimal cash bail because he does not believe he’s a flight risk.
Bielski said aggravating factors in the case are Koleske’s “complete disregard” for the child’s treatment and trying to “evade the police and medical help.”
The girl was transported via Flight for Life helicopter to an area hospital for emergency treatment.
Medical staff advised that the gunshot wound was a “through and through” wound and they took the child into an operating room to clean out the wound of debris and stitch the entry and exit wounds.
“The current history of not immediately seeking care for this wound, if true, is tantamount to medical neglect” according to medical staff cited in the criminal complaint.
The medical records also indicate, “although no bony or neurovascular damage, appropriate muscular healing and risk for infection are still a significant concern, and she still has the possibility of some motor deficit related to poor healing.”
Anyone with information regarding the firearm are asked to contact the Kenosha Police Department Detective Bureau at 262-605-5203 or the Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers at 262-656-7333.
Moms who have lost their children to gun violence gathered at St. Sabina Church in Gresham, Chicago for Mother's Day.
Who was arrested over the past few days? Here are the Kenosha County Jail booking photos for people facing possible felony charges who were bo…
The Kenosha Area Business Alliance has announced it will soon have new leadership, naming economic development professional Nicole Ryf as its next president starting in July.
She replaces Todd Battle, who has led the organization since 2004.
Ryf has more than 15 years of experience in public, private and nonprofit organizations. She has worked in multiple states at the local, county, regional and state level, including the Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism.
Her resume includes work with Fortune 500 companies and efforts to build the offshore wind industry in Virginia. Most recently, Nicole served as the executive director at the Waukesha County Center for Growth.
Ryf holds a Master of Science in urban planning from UW-Milwaukee, and a Bachelor of Arts from UW-Madison.
KABA Chair Jens Emerson said he was confident they have found the “ideal leader” for the group and is glad to welcome her to Kenosha.
“Nicole is the right person to lead Kenosha County’s development forward and build on the successes we have had,” Emerson, said. “She is a bright and energetic professional with Wisconsin roots and extensive experience in business attraction, retention and expansion, and project financing.”
Ryf expressed her excitement to be the new president of a “world-class economic development organization.”
“I look forward to collaborating with the top notch KABA Board, staff, and stakeholders to build upon KABA’s strong legacy of serving the business community and attracting prospective companies to this dynamic county,” Ryf said.
Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman said she looked forward to working with the new KABA leader.
“I had the opportunity to meet Nicole and found her to be a very dynamic leader with a great deal of experience,” Kerkman said. “As a county, we will continue looking for additional ways to partner with KABA, building on the successful groundwork that Todd Battle laid.”