Cow Patty! Not!

Last night, we saw the opening night production of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” at Nobel Middle School. To begin with, I must disclose that my daughter was in the production, so there is a *little* bias :-).

For those not familiar with production, “Stinky Cheese Man” is based on the book by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith, and was adapted for the stage by John Glore, who graciously granted Nobel Middle School exclusive non-profit rights in Southern California (it was recently presented commercially in the area). It is a collection of well known fairy tales, with various twists on them. The best known of the stories in the bunch is probably the version of “The Three Little Pigs”, from the wolf’s point of view. Other stories included in the collection are Chicken Licken, The Princess and the Bowling Ball, Ugly Duckling, Frog Prince, Little Red, Jack’s Story, Cinderella, Tortoise and the Hair, and The Stinky Cheese Man. South Coast Rep described the play as follows:

The extremely cockeyed—and enormously popular—children’s book is even more fun when the fairy tales take on lives of their own and go berserk right on stage! Characters burst into song. Rumpelstitskin turns up in Cinderella’s story. Jack sends the Giant back up the beanstalk (which he hasn’t even planted yet). Chickens can’t wait for their cues. The audience can’t wait to applaud—and you’ll never want it to end!

Especially for a middle school production, the quality was excellent. Lines were said clearly and distinctly, and with appropriate emotion, and the kids seemed to be really into their characters. Costuming was simple but quite good: all but one of the actors wore colorful T-shirts with their character’s name printed on them (even the extras wore shirts that said “Extra”). The sets were constructed by the art classes and were quite good. Lighting had some trouble in the beginning but that got resolved later in the program. Not one kid appeared to forget their lines, although a few rushed them out without waiting for the audience to quiet down. The use of the outside script was good, and led to a very entertaining production (extremely funny at times).

I’m not going to list all the kids in the program, because there are *lots* of them and all are under 15. Suffice it to say they were all excellent. Particular standouts were Jack/Narrator (Jon B.), Cow Patty Kid (Jessica L.), Chicken Licken (Camille M.), Big Bad Wolf (Quest Z.), the Giant (Daniel B.), and I must not forget the Evil Step Mother (nsshere). But in reality, all were quite good.

The production continues tonight at 7:00pm and tomorrow (Saturday) at 5:00pm. I hope that some of the staff of the Performing Arts Magnet at Van Nuys HS show up for one of these productions — this would be a wonderful feeder program for their magnet.

And with that, our 2007 theatre year comes to an end, unless I schedule something last minute over Winter Break. I hope you enjoy reading these reviews as much as I enjoy writing them. I do encourage everyone to go to live theatre — it is an incomperable experience. Our theatre starts up again on 1/5/08 at 2:00pm, when we’re squeezing in a production (between a Bat Mitzvah service and a Bat Mitzvah reception [no, not nsshere’s]) of “The Color Purple” at the Ahmanson Theatre, followed on 1/12 by “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Cabrillo Music Theatre.