Growing up ‘By the Dozen’The story has been told time and time again — the oldest child is trying to break away from the family and gain independence. But one story, “Cheaper by the Dozen” tells it in a unique way.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The story has been told time and time again — the oldest child is trying to break away from the family and gain independence. But one story, “Cheaper by the Dozen” tells it in a unique way.
“It’s kind of an age old story,” Woodbury Community Theatre director Shawn McWhorter said, “but it’s told in a very different way. It’s a remarkable story told about a remarkable family.”
The Woodbury Community Theatre’s production of “Cheaper by the Dozen” runs March 26 to March 27 and April 1 to April 2 on the Loft Stage.
Not like the movie
Even though many may be familiar with “Cheaper by the Dozen,” thanks to the comedic movie staring Steve Martin, McWhorter, who is directing the show, said the only similarity between the movie and this year’s musical is the title.
“The movie version is really more about family bonding, and this one is really more about the separation of the family and bringing them back together,” McWhorter said. “We’re showing the importance of growing up no matter what age you are — or even staying young.”
Woodbury Community Theatre’s production of “Cheaper by the Dozen” is based on the real life of Frank Gilbreth and his family of 12 children. The book was authored by one of Gilbreth’s daughters, Ernestein.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” takes place during the 1920s when inventor and educator Gilbreth is in the process of preparing his family for when he leaves on a long trip to England.
McWhorter said the central theme is Gilbreth pushing his oldest daughter Anne to grow up without realizing that she already has.
“There’s so many ways you can look at this play,” he said. “There’s so many stories to be told.”
Channeling a family
Since “Cheaper by the Dozen” is based on real-life characters, bringing them to life has been a fairly easy task, said Paul Nevin, who will be playing Frank Gilbreth.
“We are recreating real characters,” he said. “For me, I am trying to make the dad sort of a professor, Daddy Warbucks, sort of voice.”
For Nevin, playing the father in this year’s musical has been a lot of fun since he gets to revisit a show he was in almost 30 years ago. Nevin portrayed the oldest son in his high school’s production of the play.
“It’s fun to go from being the rebel to the disciplinary,” he said.
Nevin said the biggest challenge in playing Frank Gilbreth is the lines.
“The dad’s in every single scene, so I’m 47 years old and I have to remember five or 600 lines,” he said. “Other than that, it’s like any other musical.”
McWhorter said the challenge of the show is having so many children actors.
“There’s a difference between a show for children and show with children and this is a show with children,” he said. “The real challenges comes in having so many kids in the show with so many varying age ranges, but we have a great cast of kids.
Even though “Cheaper by the Dozen” might not be the story some of the audience expects, McWhorter said the story is a relatable one for anyone who has a family.
“They’re going to still find a very familiar tale that is going to be told to them,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the challenges this family faces and know that they are the exact same challenges I faced when I was a kid.
“The audience is probably going to see a lot of themselves in the characters that are up on stage.
“It’s a play of moments, so it’s a matter of finding your moment in the show.”
“Cheaper by the Dozen” runs March 27 at 7:30 p.m., March 28 at 2 p.m. and April 1 to April 2 at 7:30 p.m. on the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 4 and under are free. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit http://www.woodburycommunitytheatre.org.