left, Julia Rady as Kathy Anderson, Thomas Van
Gilder as Jim Anderson, Jim Stahl as Mr.
Brinkworth and Alec Anderson-Conlon as Bud
Anderson in the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s
production of “Father Knows Best.”
- I don’t know how young people will relate to
“Father Knows Best,” a popular TV show in the 1950s,
featuring the Anderson family, because times have
changed so much from its time frame, but there will
always be families and their inevitable conflicts and
concerns, and surely some families where father thinks
he always knows best and tries to keep a tight control
over his children. I imagine that model still exists and
probably always will.
play opens with the father, Jim Anderson, returning from
work, stressed out about a pending sale of insurance to
a large company. The mother, Margaret,
is stressed out about a washing machine that
won’t work and some garden club duties, the three
children are uptight about their social life, pending
dates, and the demands of teams and school. Typical
to unite these diverse components into a harmonious
whole - that is ever the challenge.
oldest daughter, Betty, is awaiting a dance-date with
Ralph, who happens to be the son of Mr. Brinkworth, the
gentleman who owns the big company Jim Anderson hopes to
do business with. Jim doesn’t want his teen daughter
to go out with Ralph until he has a chance to get to
know him, so he suggests they dance at home, a
suggestion that does not thrill Betty or Ralph, for that
matter, for he feels unfairly scrutinized.
son, Bud, wants to go to basketball
practice, and little Kathy plans to attend a
sleepover at her friend Patty’s house. Both are
relegated to stay home so father can keep a watchful eye
on them. He has become paranoid about stories he reads
in the paper about errant children, and he hopes to
protect his little darlings from all worldly evil. Thus,
the major groundings.
from that unrealistic premise, chaos ensues, as might be
expected when the reins are too constricting. There is
also some humor contributed in cameo roles - the
flamboyant garden ladies (Carol Renee Gray-Harden, Ann
Marie Moss and
Leah Sawnor), the inept repairman (Joe Nettesheim), and
the cops (Tony Reese and Lindsey Willicombe). Also the
commercials between acts are very amusing.
Anderson is well-depicted by the brusque Thomas Van
Gilder. His domineering manner is softened a bit when he
realizes he doesn’t always know best.
Jacqueline Gosz does a good job in the role of
the wise, patient wife and mother. We like her and can
sympathize with her difficult job as mediator.
children, played by Shannon Zoglan as the feisty,
independent Betty, Alec Anderson-Conlon as whiny Bud,
who always feels put upon, and Julia Rady as father’s
little pet Kathy all delineate their roles nicely.
Ralph, Betty’s date, is also well-rendered by Lee
Johnston II. Lauren Spencer as Patty, Kathy’s friend,
makes her noisy presence felt as well.
Stahl credibly executes his self-important role as Mr.
he and Jim Anderson are brought down a peg as the
challenges of parenthood supersedes all else in their
lives, including their business deals. We enjoy watching
the too-self-important be humbled.
together well-produced by Director David Scott, costume
designers Joanne Cunningham and Sharon Sohner, and
scenic designer Evan Crain.
It was fun to look back at an old family comedy,
one quite different from “All in the Family,” but
still enjoyable in its own way.
“Father Knows Best”
comedy runs through June 17 at the Waukesha Civic
Theatre, 264 W. Main St., Waukesha. Call 262-547-0708 or