book-cover-2By TOM CHESEK

Some pig. Some spider. Some weekend.

Even the most industrious of arachnids has nothing on the folks over at the Two River Theater this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as the Bridge Avenue performing arts center continues the ongoing engagement of the just-opened Opus inside the mainstage Rechnitz auditorium.

Meanwhile, over in their black-box Marion Huber space, they’ll be hosting the acclaimed one-actor show Namaste Man as the first in a new series of Flashes of Brilliance solo pieces. Then on Sunday, between the hours of 10a and noon, the lobby reception area comes alive with area families in the keynote event to a sprawlingly spider-friendly campaign called One Book, One Community.

That book, if you haven’t guessed, is Charlotte’s Web, the classic novel for young readers by E. B. White (memorably illustrated by Garth Williams) that employed such unusual spokescritters as pigs, rats and spiders on the way to saying some valuable things about loyalty and friendship.

fern-wilburDakota Fanning and a young porker in the 2006 film adaptation of ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ (Click to enlarge)

Still in print after nearly 60 years, the book’s been the basis for cartoons, feature films and — beginning December 7 — an all new people-and-puppets stage adaptation that serves as Two River Theater Company’s annual year-end family show.

One whole month before that, however, Two River kicks off a program designed to “unite the area through community discussion, literacy education and arts events,” by getting a copy of Charlotte’s into the hands of everyone who loves the story. And on Sunday morning, the book will be in the hands of one very enthusiastic reader, Red Bank mayor Pasquale Menna.

Hizzoner the Mayor is scheduled to read selections from Charlotte’s Web at Sunday’s party, an event that further features games, snacks, crafts and dress-up photo ops. November 7 also marks the start of a Pet Food Drive campaign at Two River (in collaboration with the Monmouth County 4-H) that continues through January 2, 2011 — with all collected items donated to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

After that, TRTC will be partnering with an A-team of local nonprofits (including the borough-based Monmouth County Arts Council), businesses and libraries to celebrate Charlotte, Wilbur and friends through storytimes, movie screenings, arts and crafts, discussion groups and discounts at participating retailers. Attendees at the various events (a rundown of which is below) will also be eligible to win a family four-pack of tickets to see the stage show during its run, which continues through January 2.

CHARLOTTE’S WEB movie screenings. The 2006 live action/CGI filmization — featuring Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte, and Rumson-based character ace Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Mrs. Zuckerman — screens for free at several area libraries, including Middletown Township Public Library (Thursday November 11 at 2p); the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury (Saturday November 20 at 2p); and the Children’s Room at the Red Bank Public Library (Monday November 29 at 5:30p; preceded by a book discussion).

Savings, and a place to put them. Fair Haven’s River Road Books and downtown cornerstone Funk and Standard are offering “great deals when you purchase a copy of Charlotte’s Web,” from this Sunday through December 23. Then on Friday, November 12, A Time to Kiln in Red Bank invites Wilbur fans of all ages to “Paint Your Own Pig Bank,” with studio fee waived between 4 and 7p and “a special discount given on all piggy banks.”

More library fun with Charlotte and Wilbur. The Children’s Room at the Red Bank Public Library offers a Bilingual Storytime reading of selections from Charlotte’s Web for English and Spanish speaking kids of all ages (Saturday November 13 at 1p); a special Charlotte-oriented Storytime and Craft Workshop is offered to 4 and 5 year olds at Middletown Township Public Library (Thursday December 9 at 3:45p), and young residents of Fair Haven can “participate in a pig project” in a Pigs & Spiders & Rats Oh My! program at Fair Haven Member Library (Tuesday December 7 at 3:15p). Due to limited space, this last one’s open only to FH families, and advance registration is required.

Also on the agenda are various free public events at the libraries in Howell, Oceanport, Ocean Township and West Long Branch. The One Book, One Community Facebook page has the updates, as well as additional information on how to participate, and reservations for Sunday’s party can be made by calling the TRTC box office at (732)345-1400.