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WHS presents ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’

WORTHINGTON -- An enthusiastic cast of 16 Worthington High School (WHS) students is prepared to perform an "oldie but goodie" tonight and Saturday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

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WORTHINGTON - An enthusiastic cast of 16 Worthington High School (WHS) students is prepared to perform an “oldie but goodie” tonight and Saturday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

“Cheaper by the Dozen,” the play based on a 1948 biographical novel written by Frank Gilbreth, Jr., and his sister Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, may date back to the first half of the 20th century, but its entertainment value and depiction of large-family dynamics hold true even in 2015.
“There are some throw-back jokes and references, but audiences of all ages will enjoy the timeless script,” assured Jon Loy, who is directing the WHS fall play for the first time.
“The play was also intentionally selected to allow for a large cast and crew.”
With a technical crew of 18 students and two production assistants (junior Tanner Nordseth and senior Erin Benz), Loy is eager for the community to see the show and appreciate the efforts the nearly 40 students involved have made to prepare it since late September.
“Thanks to a somewhat increased budget, we were able to mike the actors so it will be easier to hear the entire show and get the full story,” promised Loy.
Partnering with him as the technical designer is Judie Wendt-Johnson, while Mark Brodin of the Memorial Auditorium staff is providing light and sound expertise.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” relates, in humorous fashion, the true story of the Gilbreth family of Montclair, N.J., whose children did, indeed, total 12.

Father Frank Gilbreth (portrayed by senior Braden DeSmith) is an inventor and efficiency expert; to comic effect, he sometimes takes his practices a little too far on the home front, resulting in gentle pushback from his brood - especially his teenage daughters.
Unbeknownst to Gilbreth’s family, the patriarch is suffering from a heart condition, and his efforts to motivate and organize them go beyond mere professional interest and obsession; with the help of his psychologist wife (depicted by senior Marie Anderson), he is trying to make sure they can carry on and succeed in life without him.
Comedy and conflict arise when daughter Anne (played by the emotive Camila Wede, a WHS junior) would rather date Larry (sophomore Max Langerud) than take endless IQ tests or stay home studying and watching her younger siblings every night.
“You’ve started wearing perfume,” DeSmith as Gilbreth accuses his daughter, aghast at the frivolous gesture.
Seeking more cooperation from his children, Gilbreth betrays his personal, no-nonsense bias in declaring at one point, “The world could stand a little more efficiency.”
When Anne’s sisters (Ernestine, portrayed by senior Karina Cuate, and Martha, interpreted by senior Sarah Waldner) attempt to help her sail through the IQ test and tip her off to the five words - night, black, foot, hair and bird - she’ll be asked by the contemptuous teacher Miss Brill (senior Quinn Bents) to employ in a free association exercise, hilarity results.
“In a play, success is all about pacing and keeping the interest of the audience members while the story line flows smoothly,” said Loy, who has previously successfully partnered with Wendt-Johnson on nine WHS musicals.
“The challenges with a play exist in that you don’t have songs that can help further the story line, so you need to be creative in how you present the story,” he added.
For instance, Loy said Wendt-Johnson’s set design “took some liberties,” developing both a mock interior and exterior of the Gilbreth house, complete with a front “lawn,” garden bench and arbor, mailbox and fence.
“Spectators will feel like they’re looking in on the story of the Gilbreth family from the outside,” said Loy.
“Normally, siblings Frank and Ernestine - who function as the narrators - would sit on the edge of the stage and reminisce to take us back in time to the story.
“The set is both homey and creative, and I think it works very well for this show,” he expressed, noting that Rune’s Furniture provided “a lot of great pieces,” and The Stag Clothiers was helpful with some of the costuming.
“We’re very grateful for that assistance,” he said.
Loy is pleased with his energetic cast and crew, which counts 10 seniors among the ranks.
“So many of our characters really brighten up the stage,” asserted Loy, pointing to the “character” parts of Miss Brill, Juston Bents as Joe Scales and Wede as Anne among the highlights.
“Everyone contributes, but there are definitely some memorable performances,” he said.
“There’s just so much talent at Worthington High School, and these kids will provide an entertaining evening.”
The Worthington High School production of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which is produced through special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing, takes place at 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. Reserved seating tickets may be purchased at the door up to one hour prior to each performance, or by calling the box office at 507-376-9101 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. District 518 activity passes will be honored for both performances. There will be one 12-minute intermission.

Related Topics: THEATER
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