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New London takes a look at the extended family with 'Cheaper by the Dozen'

If you go

What: “Cheaper by the Dozen”

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, today through March 4

Where: New London Theatre, 2485 Main St., Snellville

Cost: $13

For more information: Visit www.newlondonthea...>

SNELLVILLE -- Both Frank Gilbreth and his wife Lillian were experts in industrial efficiency and applied the same techniques to raising their kids. Two of their children, Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, wrote books as comedic memoirs about their family.

Christopher Sergel later adapted their story into a play, "Cheaper by the Dozen," which opens tonight at New London Theatre.

"I believe (the play) was chosen because it's a family-friendly show. It's a good story and good script that has held up over the years," director Starshine Stanfield said. "I was intrigued by the setting 1920s because there's a bit of that gender divide, boys vs. girls. But when you read the script, you see more of a dynamic family."

The play follows Anne (played by Kelly Commander), the eldest daughter, who is trying to get through the usual high school challenges, but has a large and interesting family. Through her, the audience is able to be a part of the off-the-wall world of a family of 12 children and two overwhelmed parents.

The play shows the strictness of their father (Larry Johnson) while displaying his underlying love and care for his family.

The dad gets so extreme that he wants everything organized -- and efficient. He creates a chore chart, shows the kids how to take a bath without much waste and "fines" those who don't turn off the lights.

"My favorite parts are when the family is together -- interacting together," Stanfield said. "The dad has a big personality and thinks he's in charge, but the kids are like, 'Not really.' The family dynamic is a lot of fun."

There isn't a specific message that Stanfield wants the audience to walk away with -- just enjoy the show.

"I want them to walk away spending time with a neat family and see how love works in family that size," she said. "That's the strongest thing I pulled from the play, despite both parents having full careers with 12 children. In this day and age, the kids would be lost in the shuffle. But in this show, they're growing up smart and independent, and I love that."

The play runs through March 4.