The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Well, maybe. It could just be the table of contents.
A beautiful princess kisses a frog. Is it guaranteed she will find her prince?
For that matter, what about another princess, sleeping atop mattresses perched on a bowling ball? Or the adventures of “Little Red Running Shorts”?
Welcome to the world of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” coming to North Dakota State College of Science for two performances only.
Directed by Melissa Frank, “Stinky Cheese Man” has 7 p.m. shows on Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27. Admission to the play, performed at the Bremer Bank Theatre on NDSCS’ Wahpeton campus, is $5 for adults and $1 for students. Employees have free admission with ID.
“Expect the unexpected. These are not your childhood fairy tales,” Frank said.
RJ Hutcherson plays Jack, who narrates the comedy with music. Compared to the other actors, Hutcherson explained, he has the most lines and the least amount of costume changes.
“What isn’t my favorite part of being in the play?” he asked. “There’s the great people that I’m surrounded by at every practice. Or, could it be that I enjoy the rush of performing in front of hundreds of people?”
On the other hand, Jack is also chased by the Giant (Jason Coalwell). It is a dangerous job, certainly not meant for kids.
Hutcherson and Coalwell are members of an ensemble, most of whom play multiple roles. The cast also includes:
• Elizabeth Alyea as, among others, Little Red Running Shorts
• Sarah Coalwell, whose roles include Foxy Loxy
• Joslyn Dupree, playing roles such as the Cow Patty Boy and Cocky Locky
• Danielle Mahrer as the Red Hen and the Ugly Duck, to name two roles
• Alyssa Hunter as, among others, Cinderella
• Madison Kjar, whose roles include Ducky Lucky
• Leah Thorstad, playing roles such as Rumpelstiltskin and the Stinky Cheese Man
Musical Director Bryan Poyzer leads a chorus of Kaitlyn Anderson, Hailey Axtman, Cassie Boelke, Aubray Harry, Heather Heyerman, Surprise Jarue, Carter Kipp, Joseph Langenwalter, Harrison Maas, Blake Omberg, Erin Rooney and James Wiese.
“I hope the audience has lots of laughs with this play,” Thorstad said. “It’s kinda stupid-funny and I love it.”
Like many of the cast members, Thorstad enjoys getting to be silly and crazy while trying to make the audience laugh.
“I was familiar with the book and a play just like this in high school, because I was in that also,” Thorstad recalled. “I loved how silly the play was when I was in it. When I heard what the (NDSCS) play was about, I got excited and had to try out for a part.”
Alyea, whose roles include a chicken, a princess and a cow’s butt, said they are unique because they fit her personality.
“I can easily get into character because I can relate to my character,” she continued.
For Alyea, a highlight of being in “Stinky Cheese Man” is spending every practice with the amazing people she calls her theater family.
“I hope that the audience will enjoy seeing all the silliness that this story brings,” she said. “They should see that not all fairytales are just what they expected them to be.”
The Bremer Bank Theatre is located in the Stern Cultural Center. While Melissa Frank is the show’s artistic director, Barry Frank is its technical director.
“The really silly humor, plus the fact that it’s a musical, made it an easy choice (to put on),” Melissa Frank explained.
“Stinky Cheese Man” features music by John Glore. It is based on the book by John Scieszka and Lane Smith and is produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc.
With opening night approaching, the NDSCS actors are reflecting on how they have the chance to put on a show.
“Working with Melissa has been a very good expansion of my horizons,” Alyea said. “Not having any experience in theater before, being able to work with Melissa has shown me a different side of myself. It has made theater a lot more interesting to me.”
Thorstad, who gets to pout, dance, kiss and be creepy, admits that there is a little bit of stress as the big day approaches.
“That’s the same with any play. Overall, it’s fun and Melissa is nice,” she continued.
Hutcherson, who said the dynamic wouldn’t be complete with Frank, added that “Stinky Cheese Man” has a message for its audience.
“Never mess with the narrator,” he said. “Actually, no, but it’s a great thing to live by.”
One question remains. If their own lives were Fairly Stupid Tales, what would Hutcherson, Alyea and Thorstad’s stories be called?
“For me, it would have to be ‘Chicken Licken,’” Hutcherson said.
Alyea’s has a longer title.
“It would be called ‘Lizards, Drama and College, Oh My!’” she said.
As for Thorstad, the story presumably matches the title.
“It’s ‘The Crazy Loud Silly Girl,’” she explained.