What do you get when you mix a blunt-talking, famous, efficiency expert father and a brilliant, compassionate psychologist mother with 12 rambunctious offspring? You get one of America’s all-time best-loved memoirs: “Cheaper by the Dozen,” the hilarious story of growing up at the turn of the century in the real-life Gilbreth family.
Savannah Christian Church’s drama ministry presents the classic family comedy July 10-12, at The LINK on Savannah Christian’s Henderson Boulevard Campus. Based on books by two of the Gilbreth children, the production tells the story of one of the great pioneers of industrial efficiency who applies his unorthodox methods of saving time and money to his large, exuberant family.
The results are terribly embarrassing to Anne, the oldest daughter, but also funny, and it must be admitted, extremely effective. To Anne, however, the chief effect seems to be making them seem ridiculous to everyone at school, especially boys. Dad, however, pushes ahead with better organization for his large, delightful family. He puts up a chart for the children to initial after completing each household chore, demonstrates how to take a really efficient bath and appoints someone to levy fines on anyone who wastes electricity.
While the situations are often uproarious, there’s a serious reason for Dad’s efficiency efforts that the Gilbreth children don’t and can’t understand.
Anne rebels, and both she and Dad are miserable at the lack of understanding between them. In a moving scene, Dad becomes aware of just how much Anne has grown up. He knows that she must.
“This story is known and loved by so many people, whether they grew up reading the book, they acted in the play, or they’re familiar with the Steve Martin movies by the same name,” said drama director Wayne Sullivan.
Though it’s set in the roaring ’20s, the story still resonates in an age of iPhones and reality TV.
“This is a period piece, and I think the audience is going to love the authenticity of the set and costumes,” Sullivan said. “They’re also going to relate to the tension between teens and their parents that is ageless. Plus, there’s always a fascination with how a big family runs.”