The best kind of stupid: ArtsLive’s ‘Stinky Cheese Man’ provides community for actors, laughs for audience

The best kind of stupid: ArtsLive’s ‘Stinky Cheese Man’ provides community for actors, laughs for audience

“It’s seriously stupid — in the best way,” says director Chris Hutchings of the latest production at Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville. “Parents are going to love it. Kids will have the best time because all it is is fairy tale characters coming in and just being silly.”

“Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” on stage June 27-30 at Arts Live, stars 16 local actors ages 8-18 who are playing double roles — sometimes as royalty and sometimes not.

“They take a bunch of different fairy tales and then they basically create a parody of them,” explains Hutchings of the play based on Jon Scieszka’s book of the same name.

“Instead of saying ‘I’m the Gingerbread Man,’ it’s ‘I’m the Stinky Cheese Man’ — just a slime ball of stinky cheese!’” Hutchings explains, unable to stifle a laugh.

Other slightly warped fairy tale characters include “Little Red Shorts” instead of Little Red Riding Hood and “Chicken Licking” instead of Chicken Little.

During rehearsals, Hutchings and the actors dive into the differences between their dual roles and work out how the actors should portray their silly characters.

Hutchings — who has been with Arts Live for 10 years — is seeing a little bit of himself now that he’s “on the other side of the table” with the same teaching artists who helped raise him in the theater.

“You don’t see the progress until you look back,” he says. Now that he teaches for Arts Live’s summer camps, which are divided into ages 4-5, 6-8, and then 13 and older, he can trace his development over the years too.

For the Arts Live child actors, he’s seeing a bright future.

“My 8-year-olds, for some of them, this is their first show. They’re learning their stage lefts, their stage rights. They’re starting their theater journey. And then I’ve got my 18-year-olds, and the best thing about them is they’re so patient with the 8-year-olds. They were once just like them.”

Because the teens are so good with the younger actors, he says he gets to spend more time working with the older ones to enrich their characters and help the kids become better actors.

“I have really enjoyed directing a lot,” he says. “You get to see where the kids started at the first audition, then the table read, and just seeing when they go home and they do their actors’ homework — learning their lines, reading the script, all the things that inform their character — you get to see so much growth in them.”

For the 24-year-old director who practically grew up at Arts Live, he’s continuing a tradition that gave him a sense of community and love as a teen. He joined the children’s theater when he was a high school freshman, starting as an actor and then later working as a stage manager and director.

He’s now one of the alumni who works as a teaching artist and serves as director for mini-productions like “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Wizard of Oz” at offsite locations such as the Scott Family Amazeum and area libraries.

He says that the sense of support at Arts Live is everlasting for him and all of the staff who call the theater home.

“I think what Arts Live has really done is give me just a sense of community and love, and that’s what it provides everyone. It is such a home,” Hutchings says. “It sounds so weird because you come to the theater and you think, ‘I’m going to play so many different characters!’ But the best thing about Arts Live is get to come here and be yourself.”



‘Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales’

WHEN — 7 p.m. June 27-29 and 2 p.m. June 30

WHERE — Arts Live Theatre, 818 N. Sang Ave. in Fayetteville

COST — $10 for children; $12 for adults


FYI — The cast includes Cade Duncan, Chloe Merciez, Courtney Valentine, Ellie Worthy, Etta McClure, Florence Alverson, Gabe Bentley, Haley O’Keane, Jack Duncan, Keegan Sizemore, Knox Goodman, Ollie Harris Paisley Richard, Rilyn Foster, Sawyer Yount and Sophie Moody.

Categories: Theater