(Posted Nov. 6, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London High School’s drama department is enjoying a good run of student interest in stage performance. Director Scott Blanton kept that in mind when choosing this year’s fall play, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which features a cast of 19.
“I wanted a play with lots of characters,” said Blanton, now in his 25th year of directing London’s fall production.
Set in the 1920s, the storyline of “Cheaper by the Dozen” revolves around Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth and their 12 children. Mr. Gilbreth (played by senior Josh Lickliter) is an industrial engineer and efficiency expert. Mrs. Gilbreth (senior Kaelyn Thoman) is a psychologist.
When Mr. Gilbreth decides to apply his unorthodox methods in efficiency to his family, the results are funny and embarrassing, yet effective. Anne (junior Isabella Kerry), the oldest child, is not impressed. She feels her father’s ways make her look ridiculous to everyone at school, especially to the boys, so she rebels.
Little do she or the rest of her siblings know their father has a heart condition and, therefore, a serious reason for prodding them toward self-sufficiency. In the end, Mr. Gilbreth comes to see how much Anne has grown up. And Mrs. Gilbreth sums up a key message of the play, saying: “When you’re all together, it’s the happiest time in the world.”
The London High School cast is doing a great job with the story and the characters, Blanton said.
“This is the fourth play Josh has been in, so he’s a veteran. It’s a stretch to play an older character. He has come a long way in trying to be the adult in the room,” he said. “For Kaelyn, this is the largest role she has had, and she has done a good job with it. She has a mature demeanor that fits well with her character.”
The role of Anne requires Isabella to go through a range of emotions. “She does a great job being ecstatic, melancholy, and angry, sometimes all in one scene,” Blanton said.
Senior Julie Dunkley and junior Ethan Davitt play Ernestine and Frank Jr., respectively. Their camaraderie shines through as they serve as narrators of the play, starting each act with memories that then play out on the stage.
Among the other actors are seniors Jamie Davis who plays the housekeeper, Chloee King who plays no-nonsense teacher Miss Brill, and Natalie Dulin and Sara Studebaker who play two of the 12 children.
Performances are set for 7 p.m. Nov. 16-18 at the high school. General admission tickets will be sold at the door: $8 for students and $10 for adults.