MATTHEWS – The team at Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts is gearing up to bring a “hilarious” world of silliness to Fullwood Theater this weekend with the debut of the nonprofit’s latest production, “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.”
The show will open with a 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, Feb. 22, and will run through March 2, a Sunday, with weekend performances open to the public and weekday performances for school groups. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens, and all performances will be held at Fullwood Theater, part of the Matthews Community Center, at 100 McDowell
“The Stinky Cheese Man” is based on the popular children’s book of the same name. Director Bo Broadwell said the story puts a “wacky spin” on classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes many people already know. Highlights include Cinderumpelstiltskin, Little Red Running Shorts and a man made of stinky cheese instead of gingerbread.
“It’s a fun way to rethink some of those classic stories from your childhood,” Broadwell said.
Broadwell chose to do the production because he loved the book growing up and also was a fan of the play’s script, which he said not only stays true to the book, but also provides a lot of creative freedom for actors and directors. Broadwell also is excited to be a part of the first performance of the show in the Charlotte area.
“Matthews Playhouse chose this because it has not been produced here before,” he said. “It’s new for schools here, and it’s also something brand new for the community in general.”
Matthews Playhouse’s production features an ensemble cast of 10 actors of various ages, who portray a total of more than 30 characters in the show. Almost all of the actors are double cast, and some play as many as three or more characters in the one-hour show. Though finding the right roles for each actor was challenging, Broadwell said, it also was one of the most exciting aspects of being involved in the show.
“Who’s doing what has been the biggest challenge, but also one of the biggest joys of working on this,” he said. “…The actors bring fun, new, creative ideas. They get to explore and have fun and figure out who they want their character to be.”
Adult actor Amy Arpan takes on one of the main roles – Jack from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” who narrates the story while also “trying to keep everything together despite the crazy characters in the show,” she said. Though Jack often gets frustrated and angry at the chaos going on around him, Arpan said that’s one of the funniest aspects of the show.
“Let’s face it – it’s funny when things go wrong, especially when it happens to someone else. You get a peek into Jack’s worst nightmare, and it’s hilarious.”
Nine-year-old Jeannie Ware takes on three roles during the production, including Cinderella’s stepmother and the Cocky Locky character from the “Chicken Little” story – her favorite character in the show because of the humor surrounding the role.
“I do like that. It’s probably different than any other show I’ve done because it’s really crazy,” she said. “It’s just really, really different and funny.”
One of the most creative aspects of the show, Broadwell said, is the set. Designed to resemble a giant pop-up book, Broadwell said the set is basically a playground for the cast to run around – something he said will likely keep younger children engaged.
Though he wouldn’t give away the stage magic, Broadwell said the set will offer a few surprises including one last-minute twist people who know the book will appreciate.
“There’s a part of the set that moves, and it moves to be very similar to something that happens in the book,” he said. “Kids will enjoy it because it’s fun, silly and stupid, but it’s good for younger adults who remember the book from their childhood.”
Find more information including show times and a link to purchase tickets at www.matthewsplayhouse.com.