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Review of 'Cheaper by the Dozen'

Review by Alan Kline

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[July 26, 2008]  A good-looking cast, quick scene changes, singing, dancing, comedy, romance and a hint of sadness -- what more could you want on a warm summer evening? It was all there Friday night as the second phase of the Lincoln Community Theatre season got under way with "Cheaper by the Dozen." A near-capacity audience filled the Johnston Center on the campus of Lincoln College for the first of seven performances that will continue through Aug. 3.

In case you missed the book and the movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen" is the true story of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gilbreth and their 12 children, set in the early decades of the 20th century.

Frank is a well-known scientist who tests his theories of industrial efficiency on his reluctant family. Every room in the house becomes a laboratory for increasing learning and reducing wasted motion, thus making virtually every process more efficient. At various times and in sometimes hilarious ways, the children rebel against this "tyranny," but when Father blows his whistle, they never fail to line up like soldiers.

Except for some minor sound problems, the opening night production went off without a hitch and was especially entertaining during the many musical numbers. The small pit orchestra supported the talented cast beautifully without overpowering them. Every solo part was well-sung, but special mention must be made of the numbers involving Father, portrayed by Rob Siebert, and Mother, portrayed by Joye Anderson. Both were absolutely convincing in their parental roles and rock-solid in their singing.

The children, who ranged in age from second grade to college, were delightful and filled the stage with activity throughout the play. Nearly a dozen other cast members added to the energy and authenticity of the show in a number of supporting roles.

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An unusual aspect of this production is a testament to the talent of this young cast and crew: The remaining seven productions will go on without Tim Searby. Before he agreed to serve as director of this production, Tim and his wife, Lorna, had already booked plane tickets for their vacation, so they are leaving Lincoln today (Saturday). At the reception after the show Friday night, Tim said that he will greatly miss the cast and crew, of course, but he won't worry for a minute about the show's success because of how smoothly it went Friday night.

It's that good -- don't miss it!


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