, Port Arthur, Texas

Readers' Corner

September 21, 2007

“Cheaper by the Dozen” is bargain of a show

With 12 children in the family, father Gilbreth needs to make every moment count. He comes home with two Victrolas, for the boys’ and girls’ bathroom, so his children can learn German and French while they wash up.

Port Arthur Little Theatre presents “Cheaper by the Dozen,” based on a real family of efficiency experts in the 1920s. Their life isn’t chaos, it’s streamlined. Maybe too much so. But Dad can’t tell his children why it’s so important to him that they skip grades and get ready for life. His health isn’t what it used to be.

The girls want to “paint” their faces, wear silk stockings and go for a soda with boys. Father wants them to study for examinations.

The boys want a dog. He wants more studying.

A large cast of adorable children, a touching story and a lovely vintage set with antiques and brocade make “Cheaper by the Dozen” a great way for a family to spend some time watching the stage family. Grandmas who remember the era should especially love sharing phrases like “snake hips” and “by jingo” with youngsters in the family.

I enjoyed this production, which was like the book I read when I was younger. It’s nothing like the newer movie with Steve Martin, but the challenges of parenthood remain the same. Parents struggle with how much freedom to allow their children.

Frank Gilbreth, Sr., played by Glenn Engle, and Mrs. Gilbreth, played by Jalinda Schmidt, tie this family together.

Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., played by Isaiah Good, and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, played by Kaylynn Thomas, wrote the book. The other children are played by Brennah Thomas as Martha, Haley Seymour as Mary, Dallas Gray as Bill, Brett Nicholson as Lillian, Konnor Segura as Fred, Colton Engle as Dan, Ashlyn Redwine as Elizabeth and Joel Sellers as Jackie.

The youngest Gilbreth is supposed to be a baby, and doesn’t check in for the whistle-check and roll call.

The Port Arthur Little Theatre is at 4701 Jimmy Johnson Blvd. Show dates are Saturday through Sunday, Sept. 22-23; Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30 and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for senior citizens and students. For reservations, call 727-PALT.

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