As is customary once the curtain closes on most all children’s stage productions, the cast and crew of the Arden’s Stinky Cheese Man (their latest gem in the crown of Philadelphia’s family theater scene) made themselves available for questions from wide-eyed kiddos who maybe had just gotten their first ever taste of live theater. If that was indeed the case, their parents, teachers and guardians made no mistake in choosing this superb theatrical entry point.
After the Sunday afternoon performance of The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales, a young boy asked if the mistakes the actors made were on purpose or an intentional part of the incredibly wacky show. This was a highly astute question, one that really gets to the core of Stinky Cheese Man, an outstanding book and now musical that tosses familiar tales (Ugly Ducking, Princess and the Pea, and Cinderella to name just a few) into a blender to make something relatively smooth(ie) but with a handful of surprising chunky mistakes to keep audiences guessing and laughing for the duration of the 70 minute performance.
The Arden’s Stinky Cheese Man musical is based on the ridiculously clever book by Jon Sciescka and Lane Smith, a book in which mistakes also feature prominently and are used to help move the story forward, sideways and slantways. Whether it’s the table of contents falling from the sky, a disgruntled slightly askew version of Little Red Riding Hood or a narrator (played by the skilled and always on-point Doug Hara) who doesn’t just break the 4th wall but picks up pieces of its rubble and throws it at the other actors, the audience members and himself, Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales showcases the many powers of live theater done with expert precision, even while making a plethora of well-timed, hilarious and memorable mistakes.
Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is highly recommended for kids ages 3-13 and their playful adults. The show is on stage at the Arden Theatre now through June 12, 2016. Tickets range from $18-$36, with discounts available for seniors, students, teachers and military personnel.
*The Arden provided OWTK tickets to see the show. All opinions above are honest and unbiased, as always.