Breaking hearts while breaking a leg

Tiger Theatre Company wraps up production of “Cheaper by the Dozen”


Photo by Kayleigh Moreland

Theater students act in Saturday night’s performance.

Story by Colton Johnson, feature editor

A hush begins to fall over the crowd as the theater lights dim, allowing darkness to envelop the room. Hundreds of eyes divert their attention to the stage, hidden by shadows, waiting for the first beam of light and the soft tune of music to break the silence.

The Tiger Theatre Company brought its first play of the year, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” to life on the stage this past Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Cheaper by the Dozen tells the story of the Gilbreth family. Their inventor father, who is well-known for bringing better efficiency to factories, keeps his family of 12 children running just as efficiently,” director Lisa Newton said. “This play is told from the point of view of two of his children reflecting on the last few months before his death.”

The theater as a whole always manages to put on an incredible show for the public, and the cast and crew put in weeks and countless hours of hard work.

“Everyone worked together as a team,” junior Bree Barnett said. “We rehearsed every night the week before rehearsals, and we stayed up here until like 11 p.m. rehearsing. It was definitely a challenge, especially trying to juggle the course work of junior year with a show.”

However, the show came together just as it always does, complete with a jaw dropping set and a spot-on tech system to highlight the powerful, tear jerking scenes, as well as the lighthearted scenes that kept the audience laughing.

“I think the play was good because it had a lot of comedy, but it also had an equal amount of sadness,” freshmen makeup artist Addison Cross said. “I think it’s just a good representation of real life.”

The play begins with the introduction of Mr. Gilbreth, played by senior Gabe Lohse, a man obsessed with the idea of an orderly household. Though he seems to be a bit of a control freak with the sole desire of making sure his kids are picture perfect, as the play proceeds, the audience begins to see that he really just wants the best for his kids.

“It was a different role from anything I’ve ever played,” Lohse said. “Instead of playing the love interest, I played the father figure who has to hold down the fort for everyone, and it was definitely challenging because I’ve never had children and I’ve never been a fatherly figure toward someone. I’ve always been kind of an angsty rebellious teenager, but it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had on stage.”

His eldest daughter, Anne, on the other hand, played by junior Bree Barnett, was indeed the model of an angst ridden teen. She, as many teenagers do, begins craving normality and popularity. Arguments arise over scandalous stockings and unmannerly boys, like the cocky cheerleader Joe Scales, played by junior Brennon Cope, and quickly begin to build a wall between Anne and her father. She deliberately chooses not to see a voice of reason in anything he says and instead is constantly giving him a hard time and questioning the validity of his rules. However, after realizing that her father is ill, she then wishes that she could go back and change her rude behavior.

“I think people will definitely take away family values and the importance of learning to love your family and understanding what people are going through,” said senior Elicia Bilyeu, who played Mrs. Gilbreth. “Anne of course didn’t know what her dad was going through, so she gave him a hard time, and later regretted it.”

This play conveyed a message of the importance of understanding that time is limited because one truly never knows when their last day or someone else’s last day will be.

“The dad says at the end of the play that time is so precious, and I hope that it makes people realize that you don’t have people forever,” sophomore stage manager Mikenzie Blase said.

This idea of having limited time not only resonated with the audience members but with members of the cast, as well.

“It really showed me what’s important in my life and what isn’t. I’ve grown to appreciate my family and what they actually do [for me] more,” Cope said. “We only have a little time on this planet, and I only have a little time left in high school. I think that it’s not only important to realize the relationship you have with your family and appreciate how much they love you.”

At the end of the play, Mr. Gilbreth is about to leave for a business trip, but the family at the time doesn’t realize he will not be returning. As they gather in the living room to send their father off, Mrs. Gilbreth says it is “the happiest time in the world” since they are all there together. It is these moments when one is surrounded by the people they love that this play is trying highlight.

“It’s a show about family and feeling like you belong in your family. Everyone is important to the family structure, and that’s true for the Gilbreth family as well as for the theater,” Lohse said. “The cast is an ensemble. Everyone has such an equally important part because, without one person, the show would not be what it is, and that’s what I really love about the show and about theater in general.”

At the end of the play, the audience walked away with the same lesson that Anne walked away with: this is the only life you get, and you don’t know when your last day will be, so live it to the fullest and love the people around you.

“My wish for my students and for my cast and crew is that they realize that each day is full of ‘the happiest times in the world.’ They never know when someone walks away if that will be their last chance to say they are sorry or tell them they love them,” Newton said. “We need family, we need love, we need forgiveness, and we need to live in the moment and not plan on tomorrows for things to be better.”