Make us your home page
Instagram

Family comedy 'Cheaper by the Dozen' to open Thursday at Stage West

Players in the Cheaper by the Dozen production include, from left, Chay Nott as Frank, Chris Hubner as Dad, Jennifer Vilardi as Mom, Lorenzo Guarino as Fred and Kathrine Hines as Lillian. 

Carol Ballard | Times

Players in the Cheaper by the Dozen production include, from left, Chay Nott as Frank, Chris Hubner as Dad, Jennifer Vilardi as Mom, Lorenzo Guarino as Fred and Kathrine Hines as Lillian. 

SPRING HILL — As holiday chaos reigns in many households, it seems a good time to produce the warm, family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen. It runs Thursday to Dec. 20 at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse.

Based on a true story, the play is about the Gilbreth family, a large one — a dozen children, plus parents — even by 1920s standards, when the events take place.

Patriarch Frank Gilbreth (Chris Hubner, Eddie in Born Yesterday) is a famous efficiency expert who frequently tries out his time-saving, energy-saving techniques on his family. He's a strict disciplinarian with little patience for inefficiencies or disorder.

His wife, and mother to this brood, is Lillian Moller Gilbreth (Jennifer Vilardi, Joan in A Few Good Men), a respected psychologist who through gentle methods is able to keep order in the family much more consistently than her more rigid husband.

The kids go along with their father's charting and measuring, until the older ones begin to reach their teen years and his constant experimenting with them embarrasses them in front of the opposite sexes. Anne (Danielle DePaul, Peter Pan, Jr.), the eldest daughter, is particularly chagrined at his antics, particularly in front of her very special friend Larry (Greg Sylvia), and it's this father-daughter conflict that is the center of the story.

The story is told in retrospect by the second-oldest daughter, Ernestine (Rebecca Ostroski) and the oldest son, Frank (Chay Nott, Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird) after they reach their adult years.

The younger kids are more concerned about getting a dog or just playing than about what their father is doing. Dan (Louis Romeo, Lion in Dorothy in Wonderland) is most persistent about the dog, though his brother Fred (Lorenzo Guarino, Tin Man in Dorothy) vociferously supports him.

The kids are coddled by Mrs. Fitzgerald (Barbara Santoro), the longtime housekeeper who is totally devoted to the family. The kids are vexed by Miss Brill (Savannah Smith, Queen of Hearts in Dorothy), a teacher who hates kids — and the kids have no love for her.

The family is nurtured by Dr. Burton (Monte Doty, Barber in Born Yesterday), a plain, outspoken family doctor. He's around as it becomes clear that Gilbreth is preparing his children for his imminent death, an event that is deftly handled by playwright Sherman Sergel, making the play suitable for all ages.

The title of the biographical novel came when the whole Gilbreth bunch was sitting in a car waiting for a stoplight to change, and the people in a car next to them were gawking at all the people and activity in the Gilbreth car. Papa Gilbreth stared them down. "Well, they come cheaper by the dozen, you know," he said.

The book was made into a movie in 1950 starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as Frank and Lillian. It was made into a play that same year and has been a favorite in community and regional theater since. A 2003 movie by the same name, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, bears no resemblance whatsoever to the book or the 1950 movie.

>>If you go

'Cheaper by the Dozen'

Cheaper by the Dozen, a comedy, at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, Thursday and weekends Dec. 11-20. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15, reserved seating. Call (352) 683-5113.

. if you go

Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen, a comedy, at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, Dec. 10 and weekends Dec. 11 through Dec. 20. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15, reserved seating. Call (352) 683-5113.

Family comedy 'Cheaper by the Dozen' to open Thursday at Stage West 12/02/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 5:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Ticket window: Bucs, Michael Carbonaro, The Zombies

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 27

    Events

    Clearwater Threshers: Kids 5 and older get their choice of red or blue fidget spinner. 7 p.m., Spectrum Field (formerly Bright House Field), 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. $6-$10. (727) 467-4457; threshersbaseball.com.

    A boy plays with a fidget spinner. (Associated Press)
  4. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 22: A rejuvenating visit to The House of the Gods (a.k.a. Pilgrim Paradise)

    Travel

    Day 22: Hospital de Orbigo to Murias de Rechivaldo: 22.3 km, 6 hours. Total for Days 1-22 = 520 km (323 miles)

  5. Art Planner: Fashion superstars are on display at Tampa Museum of Art, and Fourth Friday offers up a ton of culture

    Visual Arts

    Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter at the TMA

    NYC’s “Queen of the Night,” Susanne Bartsch,