Review: Laughs aplenty for ACT's 'Cheaper by the Dozen'
A cool fall evening is the perfect time to find a dozen reasons to attend Mitchell Area Community
Theatre’s newest production of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” adapted by Christopher Sergel, based on the book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.
1. This is a great family show for all ages. Depicting the true exploits of a real-life efficiency expert, Frank Gilbreth, his wife and twelve children, the production conveys all the chaos and noise that one would expect within the household of a large family, as well as the love they have for each other.
2. First-time director Keely Nelson Bullis has put together a wonderful cast, successfully managing fifteen actors and actresses, children and adults. Bullis writes in her director’s notes that she has been involved with ACT for nearly twenty years, growing up herself in “this amazing and creative world” of theatre.
3. Justin Morrison (Mr. Gilbreth) and Jaycie Brenda Foster (Mrs. Gilbreth) are a compatible pair of harried parents. Morrison’s intensity is perfectly balanced by Foster’s calm and readiness to smooth over any difficult situation.
4. Veteran Kate Ahlers (Ernestine) and newcomer Gabe Schneider (Frank Jr.) take us through time, narrating their memories of their father and his unique method of efficient parenting.
5. The rest of the children, notably Mirabelle Morrison (Martha) and precocious Lillian Strong (Jackie) have coalesced as a believable and bonded family unit.
6. Ana Twiggs (Anne), the eldest, rebels as a young lady eager to break free of her father’s dictates. Young patrons may need to be educated about the rarity of “silk stockings” or a time when “face painting” was considered immoral. Twiggs also brings a liveliness to her brand new relationships with the popular cheerleader, Joe Scales and the more level-headed Larry (both played by Thadan Milliken-Auch).
7. The set is typical of a posh living room with several entrances. Set painting by Noel Ahlers, Terri Jacklin and cast members bring the warm, inviting room to life.
8. Lighting by Tim Goldammer enhances the stage, with spotlights used to bring Frank Jr. and Ernestine to a time of their future selves, before stepping back into the action.
9. Costumes by Ashley Gaspar depict the early twentieth century time frame, including those of the housekeeper (Amy Strong), the doctor (Matthew Schilling) and the teacher Miss Brill (Jessica Rezac).
10. The sound effects will make you smile, especially the backfiring and “ah-ooo-gah” of Joe’s jalopy horn.
11. Luna the dog provides laughs as the children wrestle to keep her off Father’s bed, he being the only member of the household who did not vote to buy a $5 dog.
12. The efforts by the entire organization are to be commended in this age of COVID-19. Masks are strongly recommended, and social distancing is enforced through reduced audience size and widely spaced seating.
At less than two hours, this show is a great opportunity to take your family to enjoy the exploits of another family from the past. You’ll find that love and laughs can truly be “Cheaper by the Dozen”!
The show by Area Community Theatre has performances Friday, October 16 and Saturday, October 17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 18, at 2 p.m. at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre. Tickets are on sale at the theater or more information is available at 996-9137 or www.mitchellact.org.