The '20s Come Alive in Cheaper by the Dozen
Beloved Classic Opens Next Week
Opening April 29th at the Alden Theatre, the McLean Community Players (MCP) presents “Cheaper by the Dozen,” a charming comedy for the entire family.
Based on the memoir “Cheaper by the Dozen” by siblings Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, this beloved comedy chronicles “the growing-up years in the 1920s of the twelve children of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, two internationally-known industrial engineers specializing in motion studies.
Having parents who were motion specialists presented the family with unique and hilarious situations in their quest for greater household efficiency.”
Director Adriana Hardy thought this production of Cheaper by the Dozen intriguing because it is told as a narrative reflection “in which they [Ernestine and Frank, Jr].recall a moment in their teenage lives when Anne, the oldest, decides to rebel against wearing cotton stockings and change to wearing silk ones—a change her father is extremely unhappy about given his old-fashioned views on dress and demeanor.
In the light-hearted dramatization of the conflict, Anne and her father are able to accept each other’s position because of their mutual love and respect. Thus, Anne’s Dad is ushered into the Jazz Age, and she and her sisters are allowed such pursuits as dances and dating.”
This is Hardy’s first time working as a director of children. There are nine children in the cast; about half reside in McLean with the rest coming from other towns in Northern Virginia. Hardy said, “I have a wonderful group... They work well together. Some are quite experienced. I’m fortunate.”
Hardy, a newcomer to MCP, has been directing since the 1960’s. She said, “One of my favorites was ‘Master Class’ in the Little Theater in Alexandria and ‘It’s a Grand Night for Singing’ at the Vienna Community Theater.”
MCP contacted Hardy and asked her to direct “Cheaper by the Dozen.” She said, “They called me. My husband has done a lot for them. I read the script and said, ‘yes.’”
Hardy’s professional career has been in the performing arts ranging from professional theater, including a production of “The Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theater, to singing in the Washington National Opera. She said, “I’m a voice teacher and run opera workshops. I was an Equity member. I’ve been teaching and acting as a professional. My husband, daughter and I had our own summer stock company in Upstate New York. Directing I consider my hobby.”
Bill Mullins, who portrays the father, Frank Galbreth, said, “I love working with Adriana. She’s a great acting coach and gives me confidence.”
Mullins, an attorney by day, portrays Frank, the father of the “Cheaper by the Dozen” clan. A partner in a DC law firm, Mullins said,” There are a lot of lawyers that do community theater…they are frustrated actors. “
When Mullins came to audition for the lead, he was unaware the play was based on a period memoir. He said, “I only knew the Steve Martin version.”
“I’ve been involved with the Vienna Theater Company for ten years – mostly producing and staging and technical stuff…not much acting – minor, supporting roles…I produced five shows.”
“I love shows with kids. I did ‘Father on the Bride’ …with my son. I did ‘Gigi’ with my daughter. I have a younger daughter and we tried out together. Unfortunately, the role for my daughter - she was too old for. I tried out for the father, but knew I had tough competition. I was surprised when I was called back...I’m thrilled to be in it.”
Of his role, Mullins said, “The father was strict, but he wasn’t mean. They [the children] were actually part of the experiments. He was all about motion studies and efficiency.”
“The kids [in the show] are wonderful. I just love it. They have a lot of talent...It’s a diverse group of kids from different schools… It’s fun. You’ve got to have fun.” He continued, "It’s a moving story…It’s very funny - the interactions between the kids and family - funny lines.”
What: Cheaper by the Dozen
Where: Alden Theater
1234 Ingleside Avenue
When: April 29, 2011 – May 14, 2011
Ticket Price: $13 - $15
Additional Information: www.mcleancenter.org/alden/box-office.asp