The Ennis Public Theatre Kids in Dramatic Studies have been busy rehearsing their rendition of John Giore’s “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” which is based on the book of the same title by Jon Scieszka.
The production by Ennis Public Theatre KIDS will open this weekend.
The comedic musical compiles several fairytales and adds ridiculous twists to them, making for an hour full of familiar storylines and hilarious witticism. With jokes for every age group, the piece creates a casual, friendly environment for a diverse audience and allows everyone to reminisce on classic fantasies.
Managing director Eliz Lofreddo had the pleasure of sitting in on one of their first complete run-throughs and was thoroughly impressed with the cast’s talent, the adorable choreography and the intelligent direction.
"The show is one of those plays you can’t leave without a giant smile on your face," Lofreddo expressed. "With a cast ranging from as young as five years old to the eldest member being a mere 15, the youthful talent presents onstage the entire time is outstanding."
While objectively the only consistent lead is that of the narrator, each performer stole the show in some form or fashion. Lily Lese, the high school freshman who voices the narrator, Jack, has a sense of sarcastic humor that sets the stage for the rest of the piece. Lese’s role requires her to be onstage nearly the entire play, making her character undeniably the most demanding. Despite the lead role, Lese nails every line and owns every minute of her performance, a feat that the average performer of her age would likely not be able to manage.
Each fairytale executes and profiles different members of the troupe-style cast, creating many hats for each member of the ensemble. From parodies of "Chicken Little" and "The Princess and the Pea" to a hodgepodge rendition of "Cinderella" and "Rumpelstiltskin," the cast contains a certain flexibility in order to fit their many individual roles.
Some of the most outstanding performances of the show include Brinkley Reese, Emma Horrell, Autumn Gray and Kaylee Dickerson. Their immense talent as they change between roles, one of which might feature a musical number, the next that might be featured in chorus choreography, is impressive considering their ages. Their passion for theatre is evident and they demonstrate such passion well.
Some of the younger members of the cast, including Evie Hildreth, Colton Justice and Mae Baldwin, are featured in smaller roles but are still showstoppers nonetheless. Hildreth most specifically has a knack for comedic timing like no other. Their adorable personas and talent in the arts make for a heart-warming presentation.
Of course, the cast members are not the only ones who deserve kudos in this production. The directing duo of Julie Mitchell and Markus Baldwin create an amazing show yet again following their spectacular Ennis debut in the previous production of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Mitchell also choreographed the show; dance, an extremely expressive art, is what both Mitchell and Baldwin believe to be a big part of why these kids opened up so easily to being onstage.
On sound is Lane Bulmer and both Sarah Updegrove and Teresa Roberson are on lights. Costume design is by Keri Keeton and Shelley Aubrey serves as music director. The behind-the-scenes staff on this show allow for kids like the ones performing to do what they love and make the community-level arts possible.
All in all, “The Stinky Cheese Man,” however unappetizing it might sound, is an adorable, must-see musical and a demonstration of young talent like no other. Despite the cast’s young age, this family show will impress you (and likely humor you) from start to finish.
Performances run from Thursday, June 28 — Saturday, June 30 at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees on June 30 and July 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at ennispublictheatre.com, via phone at 972-878-7529, or in person at the theatre at 113 N Dallas St.