By Sue Suchyta
The Players Guild of Dearborn presents “Cheaper by the Dozen” at 8 p.m. Jan. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 10, 17 and 24 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
Tickets are $17, with a $2 discount for students with valid identification. To order, or for more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.
During the run of the show, the Guild will collect donations of new socks for homeless for distribution through local charities. Socks are the most requested items sought by the homeless, and the Guild hopes to collect dozens of socks from “Cheaper by the Dozen” show attendees.
The family friendly show, set in the early 1920s, is based on the true story of the Gilbreth family of 12 children, whose parents were efficiency experts, and used their knowledge to run their huge household smoothly.
Directed by Phil Booth of Dearborn, the cast features Jeff Flannery of Dearborn as the father, Frank Gilbreth Sr., and Valerie Haas of Inkster as the mother, Lillian Moller Gilbreth.
Playing the Gilbreth children, in birth order, are Alexis Mosley, 25, of Riverview as Anne; Kelley Donnelly, 20, of Canton Township as Ernestine; Alexandra Antonelli, 19, of Dearborn as Martha; and Daniel Bartrum, 26, of Riverview as Frank Jr.
Joseph Garza, 12, of Dearborn plays Bill; Jamie Paschke, 11, of Dearborn Heights as Lillian Jr.; Cole Haas, 13, of Inkster as Fred; Kurtis Wilson, 9, of Dearborn Heights as Dan; and Dearborn residents Matthias Hermen, 8, as Jackie, Calum Carscadden, 7, as Bob, and Maggie Kanclerz, 6, as Jane.
Other cast members include Dearborn residents Rebecca Hermen as Mrs. Fitzgerald and Nathan Booth as Joe Scales; Allen Park residents Tom Sparrow as Dr. Burton and Linda Mosley as Miss Brill; and Julian Campitelle, 15, of Inkster as Larry.
Phil Booth said it has been fun to see friendships develop at rehearsals between the cast members who play the children.
“Offstage the kids work really terrific together, and they are helping each other running lines, without any prodding from me,” he said. “The youngest boys are rambunctious, and they think the set’s a jungle gym, but for the most part they know what it is like to be on stage, so they are trying to learn and study together also.”
Phil Booth said he thinks this show was a good choice for the Guild to do because the Gilbreths were remarkable people.
“I think it is great to be celebrating people like that,” he said. “Today a lot of machinery does our work, but in those days people did all of this work, and the physical damage that the work did had to be addressed, and these people addressed it.
“Today that is why we have special chairs, we have special handrests, and everything like that is studied because of what because of what they did.”
Flannery, who plays the father, said families today face many of the same challenges that the Gilbreths did in the 1920s.
“I think kids are very similar in the challenges they face,” Flannery said. “Peer pressure, school pressure, in their teens they want to date, and they are interested in cars.
“I think a lot of the challenges are still there, just a couple different accessories to go along with it. Back then, it was jazz music, and nowadays it’s smart phones and computers.”
As the show started to come together in the past week, Flannery said he started to feel paternal toward his stage children, and families who see the show will identify with the Gilbreth family’s joys and struggles.
“They will really connect with all aspects of it because I think everybody that will see the show have been through all of the emotions that are portrayed here,” Flannery said.
Valerie Haas, who is performing in the cast with her son Cole, said she now feels like she is a mother to a much larger brood.
“It’s more like a family reunion that you went to and they stayed a long time,” she said.
She said when the director had each Gilbreth cast member research their character and share their findings, and she found that Lillian Moller Gilbreth was a groundbreaking woman in many ways.
“She had the equivalent of two PhDs, and she was the first person to ever have a PhD in industrial psychology,” she said, “and how much innovation she and Frank Gilbreth did as a team and working with their kids is really amazing.
“The fact that they were so focused on improving everything, finding new and different ways to do things, like raising a family the most efficient way, the better way to educate, and to approach family life as well as their professional life, and the fact that she had a professional life with 12 kids.”
Haas said the Gilbreth family was unique in that the children had access to ideas, books and projects that Frank Gilbreth Sr. brought to them.
“The language lessons and all these things that other children didn’t have,” Haas said, “he had them constantly going. It wasn’t like they had time to sit around and be bored.
“Plus movies were new, and music was changing, and the clothing was changing, and hairstyles were changing. The ’20s were an exciting time.”
She said with their father trying to hold on to traditional styles, and their children attracted to the modern trends, their mother had to try to remain neutral.
“The mom was kind of in the middle,” Haas said. “She’s trying to understand both, but not wanting to take sides, either, so it is kind of an interesting place to be.”
The rehearsal process has also been a family affair for Bartrum, who is performing with his fiancée, Alexis Mosley, and her mother, Linda Mosley.
“It is a family environment for me here on the stage with my pretend family,” Bartrum said, “and it is definitely a family friendly show.”
He said the show will remind audiences how important it is to spend time with their family.
“You have to enjoy every minute you get with them,” Bartrum said.
SCP HOLDS YOUTH AUDITIONS FOR ‘JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH’
Southgate Community Players will hold auditions for ages 5 to 18 for “James and the Giant Peach” at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12, with registration at 6:30 p.m. at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.
Performances are at 8 p.m. April 1, 2, 8 and 9 at Davidson Middle School, 15800 Trenton Road in Southgate.
The roles include James, who seeks friends and happiness; the paternal Grasshopper; a motherly Ladybug; and the Centipede, a rowdy rascal.
Also the good-natured Miss Spider; a pessimistic, argumentative Earthworm; Aunt Sponge, a greedy woman; Aunt Spiker, a domineering, cruel woman; and the Old Man, who starts James on his journey.
For more information, call 734-837-4141 or go to scponstage.com.