Young Peoples’ Theatre Cheaper By the DozenBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 9th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Young Peoples’ Theatre’s production of Cheaper By the Dozen [MP3 5:40 1.6MB].
Mike: Cheaper by the Dozen is was dramatized by Christopher Sergel, based on the book by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It’s the story of an industrial engineer who has a family of twelve kids. He keeps them in line the same way he keeps his factory in line. He has schedules, with everything planned out to the instant. He runs a tight ship and that’s the only way you can do things. There were several misadventures and the girls in the family are growing up. They want to start doing girly things. That of course doesn’t fit into the schedule. There is a great deal of conflict within the family, but it’s all handled with a great deal of charm and love.
Laura: This was a fun show, with a fairly big cast. The kids ranged in age from four to sixteen. I could hear most of them. Some of the younger ones just weren’t quite loud enough. Young Peoples’ Theatre doesn’t have microphones. The older kids did a good job, but some of the younger ones I couldn’t hear too well. It was still fun and I enjoyed it.
Mike: Young Peoples’ Theatre does two shows a year. Generally they focus on allowing homeschooled children to get involved with the shows. That’s a great thing. They usually do shows with a really large cast so that everybody gets a chance to do a part. There is a different cast each of the two weekends in some of the different parts. The kids do learn flexibility. They learn the basics of learning lines and things like that.
This was a pretty good kids production of Cheaper By the Dozen. I’m thinking there were probably a few things cut out of it. There were a few spots that felt a little jumpy. There were a few spots where kids jumped lines.They had a good time up there. They didn’t give up. They kept the show moving right along. The characterizations overall were pretty good. One thing we have a policy about is we don’t give actor’s names if they’re under 18. We won’t be able to talk about any specific performers from the show. We’ll talk about the character that was played, but not the actor who did it.
Laura: The actress who played Ann, the oldest Gilbreth daughter did a very good job. She’s one to watch over the years. I think she has done some stuff at Aldersgate before. She showed a lot of emotion. She listened to and, usually, responded to what her father was telling her was not appropriate. You could just see the “Oh, Dad” look on her face that she gave him. I thought that was really cute.
Mike: The two performers who played the Gilbreths as adults worked well together. The actor playing Grown Frank kind of mumbled a bit at the beginning. He might have been nervous since this was the opening performance. He got a bit better as they warmed up. The spotlights were a little bit off. I liked how they transitioned from the memories that they were taking about onto what was happening on stage with the original aged performers.
Laura: The person playing the Dad did a very good job. He had a lot of lines to handle and for the most part did that pretty well. He was always uptight, always focused on what was going on. Kind of reminded me of of a commander on a navy ship or something like that, keeping a tight ship. Then when the girls especially started growing up and wanting to do other things, he just wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do with that.
Mike: I liked how the kids all stayed focused when there was an incident with a part of the set falling over. The actor playing Frank the father came in and fixed it without really breaking the scene. He just fixed the part that had fallen over and kept going on with the scene. Didn’t make a big deal about it. That was nice to see how professionally that was handled.
Laura: Some of the supporting characters also did well. The girl playing the maid the weekend we were there did a good job. She was very rough and having a houseful of 12 children to feed and cook and clean for I think would overwhelm anybody.
Mike: I didn’t really like the character of the mother of the family. I felt like she was just too wishy washy. She could have been walked all over. At the end of the show when Frank had to go over to Europe on a business trip, she stepped right in and took control. I felt like maybe the script didn’t let her be a real strong character.
Laura: Young Peoples’ Theatre has their productions at the Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre. The set they used for the shows these two weekends was the same set that the Lazy Susan uses for their evening shows. It was really well done.
Mike: One thought we had pretty much every time we see a YPT show is that we need to add a significant section to our website listing all the different options for helping children learn more about theater. Places like Laurel Mill Playhouse in Maryland have a Summer program. Other places, such as the Aldersgate Community Theatre, has a youth program. There have got to be others that we’re not tracking right now. So we do need to make a section of our website that has more information about how children can get involved with theater.
Laura: Young Peoples’ Theatre’s production of Cheaper By the Dozen is playing this weekend. Their final performances are Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 1 PM at the Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Mike: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.