Theater Info for the Washington DC region

McLean Community Players Cheaper by the Dozen

By • May 9th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Cheaper by the Dozen
McLean Community Players
Alden Theatre, McLean, VA
Through May 14th
2:00 with intermission
$15/$13 Seniors and Students
Reviewed April 30th, 2011

Based on a true story, Cheaper by the Dozen tells the story of the Gilbreth family. Their inventor father, who is well-known for bringing better efficiency to factories, keeps his family of twelve children running just as efficiently. This play is told from the point of view of two of his children reflecting on the last few months before his death. He was preparing the family for his eminent departure, but most of his children, like most of the young children in the audience, were unaware of the fact. It is an extremely funny, heart-warming, and family-friendly tale, and the tragic catharsis of the father’s death is beautiful to the adults in the audience, who can understand the euphemisms.

The children in this production were really wonderful. Nine of the Gilbreth children were featured; the other three were babies. Also, two of Anne’s dates appeared in the production. All eleven young people did an excellent job. They had great energy, were in character even when not speaking, and carried the show with professionalism. Catherine LaVally (Ernestine) and Jessica Campbell (Anne) especially stood out in their featured roles.

The adults did not quite have the same sparkle as the children. Roberta Chaves (Mrs. Gilbreth), Tracy DiiBon Coffey (Miss Brill), and Bill Byrnes (Dr. Burton) were all good and fit their characters pleasantly, but it was the children who rightfully stole the show. Bill Mullins (Mr. Gilbreth) was not as strong of an actor as role requires. He used a very artificial “sing-song” voice for his line delivery, and it really missed the mark. Luckily, this was the only major misstep in the production.

The set was beautifully crafted and really set the tone as soon as you walked in the door. The lights were simple but effective. The technical components of the production were clean and well-rehearsed. The costumes were okay for the most part. There were some incongruence with the script (ie: the girls were obviously wearing black nylons not cotton tights), but it didn’t really detract from the overall production.

All together, this was a very enjoyable piece of community theatre that is a nice treat for the whole family.


  • Ernestine: Catherine LaValley
  • Frank: Jude Rodriquez
  • Mr. Gilbreth: Bill Mullins
  • Anne: Jessica Campbell
  • Martha: Rachel Mayman
  • Jackie: Jack Barrett
  • Dan: Arthur Browne
  • Lillian: Sydney Maloney
  • Fred: Julian Worth
  • Bill: Stuart Orloff
  • Mrs. Gilbreth: Roberta Chaves
  • Mrs. Fitzgerald: Carol Watson
  • Dr. Burton: Bill Byrnes
  • Joe Scales: Max Sparta
  • Miss Brill: Tracy DiiBon Coffey
  • Larry: Ben Hyde
  • Dog: Shira

Production Team

  • Director: Adriana Hardy
  • Producer: Jean Matich
  • Assisted by: Terry Yates
  • Stage Manager: Douglas F Yriart
  • Assisted by: Shayne Gardner
  • Set Design: John Downing
  • Set Dressing: Mike Smith
  • Lighting Design: Chris Hardy
  • Assisted by: Rich La Valley
  • Lighting Board Operator: Bob Zeigler
  • Sound Design and Operation: Anna Hawkins, Zack Sanders
  • Set Construction and Painting: Bob Zeigler
  • Assisted by: John Downing, George Farnsworth, Dick La Porte, Bill Glikbarg, Bernie Gmiter, Shayne Gardner, Cathy Farnsworth, Terry Yates, Linda Stone
  • Costume Design: Marianne Brennan
  • Hair Makeup: Jean Matich, Terry Yates
  • Properties Manager: Ken Kuk
  • Backstage Running Crew: Emily Besuden, Mary Renschler
  • Publicity: Brent and Linda Stone, Cathy Farnsworth, Tula Pendergrast, Terry Yates, Jennifer Levy
  • Photographer: Traci J. Brooks
  • House Manager: Columba Hoban
  • Webmaster, Playbill: George Farnsworth
  • Auditions: Bunny Bonnes, Columba Hoban, Beth Doyle, Summer Donaldson, George and Cathy Farnsworth, Linda Stone, Nick Stone, Tula Pendergrast, Terry Yates

Disclaimer: McLean Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. MCP also purchased advertising on the web site, which did not influence this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.

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