Local teen theater featured in ‘Charlotte’s Web’ ‘changes lives’
Released at 9:15 am on Thursday, October 27, 2022
Luke Gay said his involvement in theater changed his life.
The Straughn High School senior will play Wilbur this weekend in ReAct Theater and Arts’ Charlotte’s Web at the Dixon Center at LBW Community College.
It’s his second show and he has starred in both productions. Last spring, he landed the role of the Beast in Covington County School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“I’ve always wanted to be part of a musical, so I did,” he said. “I tried the narrator role, but they asked me to do the Beast.”
“Beauty and the Beast” was my first stage appearance, but I was ready. After the pandemic interrupted his voice in 2020 with his lessons, Gay began studying vocal techniques online.
“I’ve always been a fan of storytelling music. But I was never introduced to musical theater.”
After hours of video, he had a better idea of his interests and abilities.
He is currently a member of the Straughn High School String Band and is in his second theatrical production. He will be on stage with his band Kiwanis Strings at the Covington County Fair on Friday night and will be on stage as “Wilbur” the rest of the weekend.
“Charlotte’s Web” tells the story of Wilbur, a pig who was born as a piglet and doomed to instant death, until he is rescued by a young girl, Fern. At the barn, Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte and saves him from his ultimate destiny of becoming a bacon.
The cast lives with other farm animals and a large family that surrounds the farm where Wilbur grew up. The production features veteran actors and newcomers (community members, Andalusian, Strawn, Pleasant Home, and LBW Community College students).
Directed by Roger Powell, who founded React Theater & Arts last spring.
Gay said that theater is not only fun, but also empowers participants to be who they want to be.
“It’s very empowering,” he said. “You don’t have to be yourself, you can be someone else.”
In a way, the experience of being the beast on stage did just that.
Gay said he was always considered a nerd and bullied by his peers. Theater changed that.
“After ‘Beast,’ everything changed at school,” he said. “I haven’t been bullied since. On the Monday after that performance, one of his classmates actually asked for an autograph.
At first he thought he was being bullied again.
“They were serious,” he said. “I wrote my name in cursive and that’s it.”
For those interested in theater who have never auditioned, Gay has one piece of advice.
“If you want to do it, do it,” he said. “You get a shot, don’t miss it.”
His advice is eerily similar to messages he gleaned from “Charlotte’s Web.”
“[Charlotte’s Web]taught me about the concept of death,” he said. “The message to me is that your time in this world is limited and you need to make the most of it.”
Gay is the son of Julie (née Meryl) and Marty Gay and has two brothers, Lydia and Isaac.
PowerSouth is sponsoring Thursday’s “Charlotte’s Web” student performance, which will fill the LBW Community College auditorium with students from the county’s elementary schools.
The public production will take place on Saturday, October 29th at 7:00 PM and Sunday, October 30th at 2:30 PM at the Dixon Performing Arts Center on the LBW Community College campus.
Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at Harold’s and Rody Mil Market, or online at EventBrite.
Online ticket links can be found on the ReAct Theater and Arts Facebook page.