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CDS: Gold “Golden Pond”

Golden Pond was really GOLD

“On Golden Pond” opens today Thursday 14th at The Prospect Playhouse, Red Bay.

I watched the Preview that was the final dress rehearsal, in a very cold auditorium with just three other people.

I can vouch for all of us, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

I did not enjoy the famous movie of the same name that starred Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda. I cannot believe I saw it as long ago as 1981. Despite my not enjoying it, it received critical acclaim, grossed $119.3 million worldwide becoming the second highest grossing film of 1981.

I won’t say anything more about the film except to say it was adapted from the stage play and not the other way around.

The story is fairly simple. The leads are an aged couple, a cantankerous retiree Norman Thayer and his conciliatory wife Ethel. Norman is going through the first stages of short term memory loss and he has a heart condition. Each summer they spend it at their New England vacation home on the shores of idyllic Golden Pond. This year, their adult daughter, Chelsea, visits with her new fiancé and his teenage son, Billy, on their way to Europe. After leaving Billy behind to bond with Norman, Chelsea returns, attempting to repair the long-strained relationship with her aging father before it’s too late. She failed Norman as a child, who obviously wanted a son, and he made that very obvious during her tender years, along with a failed marriage and no grand children.

The first act of the play sets all this up with some comic relief from the postman, who delivers the mail via a boat, and we learn he had and still has a crush on Chelsea.

Throughout the play there is a large amount of comedy from Norman with his wonderful sarcasm and anecdotes that bounce off his long suffering wife most of the time. She takes it with a smile and a shaking of the head. She loves him.

The second act is where the real drama begins and carries on right up until the end. It does have a happy ending and will make you leave warm inside, despite the cold I endured inside the auditorium because I was virtually alone there.

On speaking with the very experienced director, Malcolm Ellis during the interval, he told me he marvelled at the sheer brilliance of the writing from Ernest Thompson. We could all identify with someone in our own lives from everyone of the characters in “On Golden Pond”. He expressed with sheer joy at the transformation of everyone from the start to the finish. I put it quite simply, they all grew up.

Producer, Beverly Edgington, told me the two leads, husband and wife in real life, Peter and Mary Ann Kosa were on the verge of leaving Cayman after many, many years here, and wanted an acting vehicle to act as their swan song. They looked at a number of plays, along with their friend Malcolm, and as soon as they read the script, “On Golden Pond” was the one.

I could tell immediately how all three relished their own parts in the performing of the play. Never have I seen Malcolm so enthused about anything he had done before. I have known him a long time.

Peter and Mary Ann were equally as good as Katherine and Henry, and more enjoyable to me because of the intimacy of the theatre, especially The Playhouse. They lived every word they said, and there were many of them. I marvelled how they could remember them all. I could not have done it.

Agata Kalicki was very good in the larger of the supporting roles as Chelsea. She showed her anger at her father very well, controlled at first, full blown later at the confrontation between them in Act 2 and the touching “I love you. Dad” near the end.

Martin Campion who played Bill Ray, a dentist, also from a failed marriage and Chelsea’s fiance, showed he was no push over at the hands of Norman’s tongue, and the master of character acting, Michael McLaughlin, in the small role of Charlie, the postman. We see a different side of him in Act 2.

I save my last kudos for Tyson Line – Billy Ray,Jr. Just 14 years old, and has come through the CDS Acting School classes. He starts off as a cocky young teen and gradually bonds with Norman as the play progresses. He is destined for greater acting roles.

My wife, Joan, (one of the three others in the audience) marvelled at the great set from the first time the lights came up and even as we left.

Those of you who know Joan, she speaks her mind.

“The play was excellent”, she said.

There could be no higher praise.

I urge everyone to go and see it. It is different from the movie and there is more emotion than the sentimentality that shadowed the film.

I thought the production was GOLD in every department.

“On Golden Pond” plays March 14-16, 21-23 and 28-30. Prospect Playhouse, Red Bay.

Doors open 6:30pm. Start 7:30pm.

Tickets – Adults CI$25 Students CI$15

IMAGES: Georgina Wilcox

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