The Stinky Cheese Man

September 30 – November 26, 2006

Poor Jack. He just wants to chop down his beanstalk in peace, but the little red hen, the princess, the wolf and a host of familiar fairytale characters keep getting in the way—and then there’s that annoying Stinky Cheese Man!

Based on the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith 
Adapted by William Massolia 
Directed by Rick Barletta

  • Cathleen Bentley (Little Red Hen/Cinderella)

    Cathleen is happy to be a part of this Lifeline/Griffin Theatre collaboration. With Lifeline, she appeared in Gaudy Night and Jane Eyre as well as the KidSeries productions of Cricket in Times SquareBongo Larry and Two Bad Bears, and Rumplestiltskin Revisited. Her work with Griffin Theatre includes Stairs to the RoofSleeping Ugly, and the Midwest and Florida tours of There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom and Frindle. Other Chicago credits include Apple Tree Theatre, Irish Repertory, Defiant Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre, and Oak Park Festival Theatre. Offstage, Cathleen works as a figure skating coach and choreographer.

  • Marsha Harman (Stepmother/Pea Girl/Little Red Running Shorts)

    Marsha is excited to work with Lifeline Theatre. Marsha is a company member of New Leaf Theatre where she has appeared in RecklessBrilliant Traces, and As It Is In Heaven. Other regional credits include AntigoneJulius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Bakerloo Theatre Project in New York. Marsha holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Drew University and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from Catholic University.

  • Kevin Kingston (Giant)

    Kevin is pleased to be back at Lifeline, after appearing as Joey in their production of A Long Way From Chicago. Since moving to Chicago he has also worked with Griffin Theatre, Eclipse, Rogue Theatre, GreyZelda, and Free Readers Ensemble. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

  • Vergia Siovhan (Frog Princess/Rumpelstiltskin/Queen)

    Vergia is making her Lifeline debut with The Stinky Cheese Man. Other credits include Bye Bye Birdie starring Rue McLanahan at the Civic Light Opera Performing Arts Academy. She is a recent graduate of The Theatre School at Depaul University where she earned a BFA in Acting. She is currently performing in a sketch comedy show at The Second City with the Outreach and Diversity program on Saturday nights.

  • Nicholas Ward (Stinky Cheese Man/Prince/Wolf/Frog/Stepsister)

    Nicholas makes his first appearance in a Lifeline production. Past credits include Winter’s Tale for Bohemian Theatre Ensemble and Rogue 8 for Rogue Theater. He is an Artistic Associate with Serendipity Theatre Collective, currently serving as producer of 2nd Story, a music, wine and storytelling festival. He is also happy to be the production coordinator for Pine Box Theatre Company’s This Is Our Youth, opening on October 15th. Nicholas is a graduate of Miami University (OH).

  • Steve Wilson (Jack)

    Steve is no stranger to this weird and wonderful play. He has performed as both Jack and the Stinky Cheese Man at various times with The Griffin Theater and its touring company. This is Steve’s first appearance with Lifeline. He is a member of The Hypocrites where he was last seen as as Louis in Angels in America (Parts 1 and 2). Other Hypocrite credits include Jim, The Gentleman Caller in The Glass Menagerie, Joe in Balm in Gileadand Valentine in Arcadia. Previous Griffin credits include Frindle and The Flying Trunk. He has also worked with The Factory Theater, Remy Bumppo and Zeppo Productions. You can catch Steve in The Factory Theater’s Operation Infiltration opening in November as well as Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano for The Hypocrites in April.

  • William Massolia (Adaptor)

    William is a founding member of the Griffin Theatre Company. As a playwright he is the author of many plays including StardustLoving Little EgyptShakespeare’s DogAsh Can AlleyFrindleThere’s a Boy in the Girl’s BathroomSleeping UglyCatherine Called BirdyA Night in Mantua and Riding the Dolphin. A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Mr. Massolia is a past member of the League of Chicago Theatres Board of Directors, the theatre advisory panel for the Illinois Arts Council, and a recipient of an IAC 2000 Playwriting Fellowship Award.

  • Richard Barletta (Director)

    Richard is a founding member of the Griffin Theatre Company. In his almost 30 years of theatre he’s directed over 125 productions, many of these with the Griffin. Some of his favorites would include: Much Ado About NothingTwelfth NightAll the Way HomeAh, Wilderness!Shake Your Groove ThingShakespeare’s DogAsh Can AlleyHenry and the Second GunmanA Night in MantuaThe Whipping BoyThere’s a Boy in the Girl’s BathroomFrindleThere’s a Girl in my Hammerlock and Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, for which he received a Joseph Jefferson Citation nomination. Richard holds an MFA in Directing from the Goodman School of Drama and a BS in theatre from the University of Evansville. In addition he has directed productions at the Theatre School, DePaul University and Loyola University in Chicago. He received Joseph Jefferson Citation Awards for both directing and ensemble with the Midwest premiere of Stags and Hens.

  • Michelle Lilly (Stage Manager)

    Michelle is pleased to be making her debut with Lifeline Theatre. Michelle graduated from Truman State University in 2005 with degrees in Theatre and English. She recently stage managed Fellow Travellers for Stage Left Theatre here in Chicago. Other Illinois credits include scene designs for the musicals Ragtime and Aida with the Springfield Muni. Michelle has also worked as a sound technician for the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis on productions of Macbeth and As You Like It.

  • J Branson (Scenic Designer)

    This production marks yet another collaboration with Griffin Theatre. Chicago theatergoers have seen his work at Apple Tree Theatre, Pegasus Players, Pyewacket as well as the Chicago Theatre. He remains on staff, year round, as a scenic designer for several Kansas, Connecticut and Wisconsin theaters. Recent works are Thoroughly Modern MillieSeussicalBeauty and the BeastCoyote on a Fence, and Hair. National tours include The Music Man and Brigadoon. He has various local and regional acknowledgements as well as an After Dark Award, and three National Addy Awards. Past Chicago productions have included Three Tall Women and A Man of No Importance (Apple Tree Theatre), The Conversation (Pyewacket Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (After Dark Award), Company (Pegasus Players), and Ella Enchanted (Griffin Theatre).

  • Jessica Kuehnau (Costume Designer)

    Jessica recently completed her MFA in Scenic and Costume Design at Northwestern University. She is pleased to be returning to Lifeline Theatre for the second time having designed the KidSeries production of Stuart Little last fall. Her Chicago credits in costumes include Still Life with Iris and I Dream in Blues (Vittum Theatre), Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purseand Glory of Living (Northwestern University Theatre) and assistant designing for Fences(Court) and Hecuba (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). She has also designed scenery for The Griffin, Light Opera Works, MPAACT Theatre, Theatre Building (new musical program) and Northwestern University. Jessica is currently the resident set designer, technical director and design professor at North Park University.

  • Michelle N. Warner (Properties Design)

    Michelle is happy to be working on her first show at Lifeline Theatre. She has worked on props at various other theatres in Chicago, including Steppenwolf and Stage Left. She now spends most of her time as the Properties Assistant at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Michelle is also a Scenic Designer, and her work can be seen at the inaugural production of Pavement Group Theatre Company.

  • Tim Hill (Sound Design)

    Tim is very glad to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time. Past sound designs include productions by Irish Repertory Theatre, Neo-Futurists, Tireswing Theatre, University of Wisconsin in Madison, Roadworks Theatre, and Free Associates. Proud member of The Anti Road Trip Alliance and ARTA Films.

  • Charlie "Ziggy" Olson (Technical Director)

    Charlie just recently started with Lifeline Theatre and couldn’t be happier. He freelances around Chicago at CityLit, A Red Orchid, and Chicago Shakespeare.

  • Cortney Hurley (Production Manager)

    Cortney is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the season. Previous and current production management positions include Ellen Under Glass for the House Theatre of Chicago, Marathon ’33 for Strawdog, One False Note for Plasticene,as well as the Assistant Production Manager at Theater on the Lake for the last 3 years. Cortney is also a company member of 20% Theatre, where she often acts as production manager, lighting and set designer, and dramaturg, among other things. During the school year Cortney can be found at St. Scholastica Academy, where she has been the resident designer (scenery and lighting) and technical theatre instructor/director for the last eight years.


“The Stinky Cheese Man” at Lifeline Theatre in association with Griffin Theatre Company

October 5, 2006
By Alena Murguia

Lifeline Theatre, well known for adapting classic children’s books for the stage, has now tackled a not-so-classic book with hilarious results. Using great actors, an inventive set and plenty of audience interaction, Lifeline once again has kids and their parents laughing, clapping and cheering for the unlikeliest of heroes.

The plots centers around Jack (of Beanstalk fame) who tries to use stories, friends and one annoying Little Red Hen to avoid being eaten by the Giant (played entirely on stilts by the talented Kevin Kingston). The original book was written by Jon Scieszka and all of his stories are subversive twists on classic fairytales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin.

Over the course of 45 minutes, actors play multiple parts bringing these stories to life. Terrific actors and great costuming make each character so unique that it took my 5-year-old a while to catch on that it was the same person. Nicholas Ward is so wonderful as the Stinky Cheese Man that his terrific turns as a conniving frog and wily wolf come as a great surprise.

Jack gets the kids in the audience involved physically and verbally. We loved watching him climb through rows of people attempting to hide, especially when “helpful” audience members blew his cover with the giant. My niece was definitely impressed at the actors’ abilities to respond to the audience even though she doesn’t know the term “improvisation.” One brave little girl even joined the cast for a turn as Goldilocks. You have to give the actors big credit for coaxing her to do their bidding.

In case the title doesn’t give it away, parents should be aware that the word “stupid” is thrown around constantly through the show. My son was truly shocked to hear characters calling each other “a bad word.” I was also a little taken aback by the amount of stage violence, especially between Jack and the Giant. Lifeline recommends the show for kids 5 and up, definitely guidelines to follow.




Look to Lifeline and Griffin Theatre’s “The Stinky Cheese Man ” to give your funny bone a hearty nudge.

October 2, 2006
By Joe Stead

If the child you love or the child inside you craves something insatiably silly, look to Lifeline and Griffin Theatre’s wacky KidSeries co-production of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” to give your funny bone a hearty nudge. Co-Authors Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith took many of our famed fairy tale characters (Jack in the Beanstalk, the Little Red Hen, Cinderella and the Princess and the Pea, among others) and turned them inside out in an outrageously irreverent 1989 revision. It may not give the little tykes much to think about, but William Massolia’s bright and fast-paced stage adaptation should give them permission to chuckle out loud.

The sky is falling, the beanstalk has sprouted and the Little Red Hen can’t find anyone to help make the bread. But at the moment, Jack has his own problems. If you all remember, and I know you do, Jack exchanged his favorite cow for a handful of magic beans, which he was promised would lead him to riches. “You believed him, did you?” the Hen inquires, to which Jack replies, “Of course, it’s a fairy tale.” And the beans did grow into a towering beanstalk that led to a golden harp, a magic goose, and a Giant with a pretty ravenous appetite for Englishmen. All the while, the annoying and smelly Stinky Cheese Man teases him (and us) with Silly Cheese Spray and taunts him to play tag.

It’s a life and death situation for poor Jack, who must conjure some tall tales to distract the Giant from turning him into a giant sandwich. We rehear those oft told tales of the Frog and the Princess, CindeRumpelstiltskin, a biker Princess and the Pea, a track star named Little Red Running Shorts and a gentlemanly Wolf who is just misunderstood, and Goldilocks and the Three Elephants. Missed one or two of those? No fear, Lifeline’s production encourages the audience to use its imagination and even join in the action at one or two points. Director Richard Barletta and his cast play it strictly for laughs, with the typically crafty Lifeline creativity and ingenuity coming into play. Big cheers to Lifeline Theatre for the continued devotion to exposing youngsters to the wonders of live theatre.



From Northeastern IL University Independent Paper

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

October 6, 2006
By Lenny Ocasio

Everyone’s read a fairy tale in some form or another. You know the ones that start with once upon a time and end with happily ever after. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at the Lifeline Theatre has all the highly familiar tales but with a twist to them. It’s based on a book of the same name but believe me when I say it’s not necessary.

We start with Jack (the one with the beanstalk not the candlestick jumper), played by Steve Wilson, as he tries to escape being the giant’s lunch. Jack from time to time is interrupted by the bothersome Little Red Hen, played by Cathleen Bentley, and the exasperating Stinky Cheese Man, played by Nicholas Ward. Jack, in a fit of desperation, persuades the giant to listen to a few of Jack’s collection of fairly stupid tales before eating him. The giant, played by Kevin Kingston, decides that it couldn’t hurt to delay his meal for a few minutes and so Jack begins.

He starts with the Princess and the Frog which has a princess with her own theme song, played by Vergia Siovan. The giant of course is disappointed with the story but let’s Jack tell a few more. If you’re familiar with Arabian Nights and Scherazade then you can tell how this is going. Jack goes through of a number of tales each with its own weird twist and some odd characters popping in from time to time.

Cinderella, Snow White, the Three Little Pigs, the Tortoise and the Hare, and Goldilocks are mentioned as is Aladdin. My favorite stories were the Princess and the Pea with the rock n’ roll princess and the slightly whiny prince and there was also Little Red Running Shorts, played by Marsha Harmon, with the misunderstood Wolf who strangely enough had a British accent.

The entire play was wonderful. The costumes were simple but they allowed your imagination to fill in the blanks. It made the audience an active and involved part of the play. The actors looked like they were having a lot of fun putting on this production. The play had lessons to learn like the very important: Don’t talk to strangers, especially if they offer to sell you some magic beans.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is playing at the Lifeline Theatre located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. There is parking available and it’s near the Red Line. Go see it with friends, family, or by yourself, it’s only 45 minutes long.