There are three things you need to know about me: 1) Physical comedy gets me every time; 2) I live in awe of good parodists; and 3) I love a good poop joke. So naturally Theatre IV’s production of The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales was right up my alley. Oh, and my three-year-old son’s.
There are three things you need to know about me:
Pair these little tidbits with the fact that I have a like-minded three-year-old boy, and one might think the cards were stacked a bit too much in Theatre IV’s favor when my husband and I took our son JR to see The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
Au contraire, mon amis. I would argue that my particular comedic tastes make me quite the connoisseur of such forms of artistic expression. And if I’m counting on you to hold my son’s attention long enough to keep him from losing his damn mind in public, the stakes get even higher. Let’s be honest: no one wants to be the disappointed/frazzled/possibly crying parent attempting to wrangle her bored/insane/probably crying child while other people are watching.
Well, I’m pleased to say the Catrow family shed not one single tear as we spent our Saturday evening in the November Theatre4 soaking up the silliness of John Glore’s The Stinky Cheese Man And Fairly Other Stupid Tales, the theatrical and musical adaptation of Jon Scieszka’s award-winning collection of hilarious parodies of the world’s most beloved children’s stories. We giggled. We chuckled. There might have even been a guffaw or two in there.
I could tell from the moment we sat down that we were in for a night of nonsense and fun. Jasmine Nicole Roberts’s set design was wonderfully detailed in its wackiness and perfectly emphasized the tone of the show. Prior to the “official” 7pm start time, the cast engaged in various hijinks on and off stage (shouting “Cow patty!” at each other, smelling audience members’ feet, etc.) that had the kids in stitches. This was a genius move on director Billy Christopher Maupin’s part because 1) it kept early arrivals entertained, and 2) the kids seemed to feel like they were “in” on a joke, thus drawing them into the show before it even started. Once the play got going? Forget it. They were giggly little globs of putty in the actors’ hands.
It seemed the parents couldn’t help but enjoy themselves as well. Most of the stories are legitimately funny–not just cute and not only reliant on the goofy physical stuff that had the kids (ok, and me) cracking up. One also can’t help but love the songs. I mean, how can you not appreciate the cheekiness of titles like “Opening Number” and “The Really Emotional Crying Song”?
Overall the cast is strong, especially considering there are only seven actors in a show featuring over 30 different characters. Mauricio Marcés, starring as Jack, the show’s narrator, seemed nervous to start–particularly when interacting with the audience–but he shook it off once the story picked up some pace, and he was able to play off his fellow cast members. What’s more, Marcés’s Jack is a great straight man counterpart to the zany characters we encounter throughout the show.
Deejay Gray is fantastic in each of his six roles. You’ll love him as one of Cinderella’s wicked (and seriously sassy) stepsisters and your kids will lose it over one particularly unexpected move he makes as the frog jonesing for a kiss from the princess. Other standouts for me were Sarah Roquemore as the Ugly Duckling (I’ll claim at least one of the cackles that echoed throughout the theater when she lurched on stage) and Allison Gilman as the show’s title character, particularly when she busted out into her Stinky Cheese Man dance. That alone is worth the price of admission.
(Well, that and the poop joke at the end, but I don’t want to ruin it for you.)
The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through March 18th at the November Theatre (114 W. Broad Street). Show times vary by day, so check the website for details. Tickets are $14 for kids and $18 for adults. The show clocks in at just under an hour. Theatre IV recommends it for ages four and up, but our three-year-old did just fine.
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- I’ve recently discovered that early 80s Chevy Chase movies are about as fantastic as it gets for me. Judge all you want. I don’t care. ↩
- The works Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and the Zucker brothers were basically played on a constant loop in my house growing up. And, fine, Weird Al, too. ↩
- I’ll also admit that vomit joke are also comedy gold in my mind. Like this really, really hilarious and really, really gross example. ↩
- Formerly the Empire Theatre. Read more about that here. ↩