The Granby Memorial High School Drama Club is hard at work getting everything set for its performances of Cheaper By The Dozen — a drama based on a real family, its tensions and the complexities of children growing up — which happen on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17.
More than 25 Granby students make up the cast and crew of the production, sourced from a family biography by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. Gilbreth’s mother, Lillian Moller Gilbreth (played by Becca Hayes), and father, Frank Bunker Gilbreth (played by Justin Ranicar), were experts in the industrial efficiency field who raised 11 children in Montclair, NJ, in the early 20th century.
The dramatic performance, not to be confused with the 2003 comedy film of the same name, features at its center the progressing adolescence of oldest daughter Anne Gilbreth, played by Kellie Comer, who yearns to wear grown-up clothing, go out on dates and generally move through the process of becoming a young adult and the tension those desires create within the family.
“Everything comes together around her,” said GMHS student Madison Pfaff, who is pulling double duty for the drama club by performing as Ernestine, one of the play’s narrators, as well as acting as the club’s secretary. “We’re reflecting on what happened to [the Gilbreth’s children] during childhood.”
The two narrators, Pfaff and Aidan Borsecnik as Frank Gilbreth, provide a look at the play’s events through main character Anne’s eyes.
Cheaper By The Dozen also touches on the Gilbreth children’s unique role in their parents’ efficiency research, which had a pronounced effect on how people employed in many disparate professions performed their jobs.
About 10 GMHS students have built the set and will handle the play’s technical aspects — lighting, sound cues, set changes, wardrobe and more — during the performances. The GMHS Drama Club won the Scenic Achievement Award for set design and construction from the Connecticut High School Musical Theatre Awards in 2011.
The two performances happen at Granby Memorial High School on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. with tickets available at the door. Student admission costs $8; adults cost $10; senior citizens get in for free with their membership card from the Granby Senior Center. For $50, those interested in supporting the drama club can purchase a season pass allowing admittance to all shows and performances by the group, including the spring rendition of classic musical Oklahoma!
The drama club also plans to host Granby’s Got Talent in January, a fundraising effort for its spring production.