Production showcases sets by Storm King class

The Philipstown Depot Theatre in Garrison is buzzing with activity. Several high school students paint sets, and a couple more hang triangle flag banners for a scene at a fair. These students, all in grades 10 to 12, are in Eliza Brown’s set-design class at the Storm King School in Cornwall.

In the spring, Amy Dul, the executive director of the Depot Theatre, ran into Brown, who lives in Cold Spring, and asked if her students would like to design a set for Depot Theatre’s Youth Players, a program that gives children and teenagers opportunities to work onstage and backstage for theater productions.

“We talked and decided that would be a great vehicle for her students to learn how to design a show and be able to come into a theater and put it up,” said Dul.

That conversation became the impetus for a unique partnership. In October, Brown and her students started designing sets for the Youth Players’ production of Charlotte’s Web, which takes place on Saturday (Dec. 10) and Sunday (Dec. 11).

A model of the set for Charlotte’s Web
A model of the set for Charlotte’s Web

Brown had her students brainstorm ideas for the sets as a group, and in pairs they refined the elements and made models. The students presented the models in mid-November to Fay Pacht, director of the production. She helped fine-tune the designs, and then the students started building the pieces.

Annie Cosgriff, one of Brown’s students, designed and created a double-sided fence, painted brown on one side and white on the other “so it flips with a scene change,” she explained.

Charlotte’s Web cast members rehearse on a set designed by students at the Storm King School.
Charlotte’s Web cast members rehearse on a set designed by students at the Storm King School.

The students faced challenges. They had to create pieces at the right scale for the actors, who are shorter than adults, and avoid props whose size would “steal the spotlight,” said Regina Bolanos, one of the students. They also had to consider each other’s ideas — “we had to come to a conclusion on what we all liked,” she said.

Yusei Suzuki, a sophomore at Storm King, recalled the difficulty they had designing the platform on which Charlotte stands. It was originally too small, interrupting the crew and actors as they entered and exited the stage. So, the students added a 2-foot-by-3-foot section.

In addition to the Storm King School, students from Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley, where Pacht teaches theater classes, made web and egg sac props.

Pacht also faced unique challenges in rewriting the show for the cast, which includes 16 actors from Garrison and Haldane who range in age from 8 to 12 years. To ensure that everyone had a part, she rewrote the script so that the story is told from the viewpoint of baby spiders talking about Charlotte. And because she could not use the music from the original movie, Pacht’s husband wrote a score.

The production also relies on the talents of Haldane student Helen Hutchison, the stage manager, and Bryce Edwards, who runs lighting and sound.

The Philipstown Depot Theatre is located at 10 Garrison’s Landing. Charlotte’s Web will be performed at 2 and 4 p.m. on Dec. 10 and 11. Tickets are $10 at

Eamon Wall is a seventh-grader at Haldane. Eliza Brown is his mother, and he is assisting with the lighting for the show.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Eamon Wall is a seventh-grader at Haldane and a member of The Current's Student Journalists Program. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Areas of Expertise: Youth issues. The Student Journalists Program is supported by our members.

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