The Bellevue Little Theatre opened the classic comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen” last weekend for a three-week run.
This play is based on the 1948 book by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, which was made into a classic Technicolor movie in 1950. That movie starred Clifton Webb, Jeanne Crain and Myrna Loy. A newer version was made in 2003 starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. The story for that version is entirely different.
The Bellevue production is directed by Jon Flower. He has a great cast in this three-act comedy. Nora Shelton is the assistant director and stage manager.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” takes place in the 1920s in Montclair, New Jersey, and focuses on a family with 12 children. The father, Frank, is played by Michael Taylor-Stewart. He is excellent in the part of the efficiency expert. He tries to run his family like a corporation. He uses a whistle to assemble the kids. He goes a little overboard in the military way he treats the kids. He is a loving, caring man who loves his 12 children. Stewart really is a force on stage and his character is fantastic.
His wife is played very well by Sara Planck. They make a very believable couple on stage who just happen to have a dozen kids. The kids are great, but we don’t see all on stage. The babies are never seen during the show.
The teenage daughter Anne is a brilliant girl. She has skipped grades in school. At the beginning of the play, Anne finds herself discovering boys much to the dismay of her dad. Her father wants her to spend all her time preparing to take an exam so she can graduate high school early. Anne decides to buy things like silk stockings and new underwear instead. The boys at school don’t even talk to Anne because of her father’s reputation as a very strict father. Amanda Srygley is so good in the part. She is awesome in the role of the teenager who challenges her dad. This show is full of laughs, most of which are generated by the children.
Mrs. Brill is the teacher who must give the tests to Anne. She is stern and believes Anne has cheated. Kim Alger is really good as the teacher. Thomas Gunning plays Dr. Burton. He is good as the doctor treating Frank Sr. for a medical problem. This part of the story is done in a unique way. Since this is a three-act play, the show actually continues behind the black scrim curtain during intermission. Unfortunately some people left their seats during the two intermissions. There is a lot of information to be gained during the intermissions about Frank Sr. and his health problems.
Otto Fox plays 14-year-old Frank Jr. Kerri Jo Watts plays the maid, a small part but done very well. Jackie, who is played by Quinn LeCraw, steals the show when she is onstage. She is only six but is really charming. Other cast members include: Sophie Anderson, Kayleigh Burley, Julian Cruz, Daniel Davis, Matthew Kischer, Olivia Van Lancker, Amy Marie Wagner and Ryann Watts. There are many young talented actors in this show they do an incredible job of performing.
Joey Lorincz is set and lighting designer. Leah Skorupa Metzger is costume designer for the show. The production is very good in all aspects.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” is a great family show and runs two more weekends at the Bellevue Little Theatre in Old Towne Bellevue, Nebraska. The show runs less than two hours including intermissions. Ticket prices are $18 for adults; $16 for seniors; and $10 for students. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
You can reach the box office by calling 402-291-1554.