OLEAN — The Olean Theatre Workshop on Washington Street is presenting “Cheaper by the Dozen” to audiences tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at a 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday.
Based on a book written by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, two of the dozen children of the actual Gilbreth family, the story was dramatized into this play version by Christopher Sergel in 1950.
Director Katie Ralston and assistant director Kaitlyn Anastasia stage this production and capture the time period with costume and set choices. They have worked with the cast to ensure that all are comfortable in their roles.
The central conflict of the plot arises from the oldest daughter’s longing to be just like the other kids at school by wearing similar clothes and attending typical events. The adults in the family initially insist on burdening the children with their outdated ways and thoughts.
Lily Schena portrays Anne as a vivacious teenager, who can be troublesome to her parents, but who also makes her points articulately and persuades them to slowly view issues her way. Lily wishes to spend time with Joe Scales, portrayed as a charismatic cheerleader by Wils Jay-Edwards, and with Larry, whom Noah Ingalls reveals to be both understanding and kind toward Anne.
Anne garners the support of her sisters Ernestine and Martha, well-played by Chloe Ingalls and Eleanor Ring, respectively, in an effort to convince her parents that she should be allowed to make some of her own decisions. Ernestine also pairs with her brother Frank, played by Liam Austin, who wonderfully delivers his lines, as the two narrate the story.
Alan Bernstein plays the father, who is an expert in improving factory efficiency, as both rigid and caring. He clearly loves his children but is taken aback by the passing of time. He notably comments that “time is precious” and “it’s the most important thing.”
While he is the patriarch of the family, he refers to his wife as the “Boss,” a role to which Rebecca Green brings maternal concern for all. The order that the parents crave is indicated by the whistle that summons the children to the living room; this will turn from an experiment into a necessity as the family faces new challenges.
Five of the other children also share the stage and are presented by Stella Austin, Sterling Prince, Anna Tingley, Nicholas French and Kevin Lasher. Commendably, the children are all well-rehearsed and delightfully stay in character throughout the play.
Supporting cast members include Courtney Lasher, Sandra Mulryan and Mike Kayes, who all contribute polished performances.
Tickets for the show are $10 and are available online at www.oleanworkshop.org and at the door. They can also be reserved by calling (716) 373-7469.