On Golden Pond Returns to Theatre Stage
Return of Evocative Play Draws Praise, Emotions
Last updated 11/3/2023 at 4:02pm
Lake Wales Little Theatre has another entertaining offering on the boards in November, as the company offers the tender classic, "On Golden Pond," which opens Friday, November 3 for a three-weekend run. A talented cast, under the direction of Jamie Clark, turn the script into an enjoyable night out.
During a visit to their rustic cabin on Golden Pond, the cantankerous retired professor Norman Thayer Jr. and his long-suffering wife Ethel expose the inner workings of their tender and obviously loving relationship, which is overshadowed by family tension and the struggles of old age and failing memory.
The stage play differs somewhat from the 1981 highly-acclaimed movie starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn as the Thayers, Jane Fonda as estranged daughter Chelsea, and Dabney Coleman as her fiancé Billy Ray, but it wouldn't be the same without the symbolic calling of the loons welcoming the Thayers back for their 48th summer.
It's an emotional performance on the local stage for fans and veterans of the theatre company, who may recall that in 2005 Katherine and Terry Loyd introduced the Lake Wales Little Theatre audience to the play. Terry's death this year, 10 years after Katherine's, prompted the LWLT Board to bring back Ernest Thompson's screenplay to pay tribute to the couple who devoted so much of their time and resources to the community theater they loved.
While both Larry Helms and Dorinda Morrison-Garrard, performing as Norman and Ethel, are stage veterans, it is their first appearance together. They bring understated yet thoughtful performances, both being masters of projection and emotion.
Helms is best known for award winning acting and directing roles at Theatre Winter Haven, but it's been nearly two decades since he's graced the LWLT stage. Morrison-Garrard played a masterful Bette Davis in the Haines City Community Theatre production of "Me and Jezebel," and has been a strong and talented presence in many diverse productions at LWLT.
Two LWLT regulars who began their acting careers in children's plays, Madison Glockner as Chelsea and Nicholas Bique as Billy Ray, offer strong performances. Billy Ray supports Chelsea's attempts to reconnect with her almost 80-year-old father, who had made her feel inadequate and unloved. The audience could feel Chelsea's sadness and then watch hope grow that somehow they could finally bridge their turbulent times and lifelong relationship gap.
Two newcomers were cast in the production. Roman Shano ably played the moody 16-year-old Billy Ray Jr., who was left behind for the summer but develops a bond with Norman as they spend long days fishing and exploring classic books.
Elijah Lewis as Charlie the postman adds humor to his mail deliveries with his optimistic viewpoint and infectious laugh.
LWLT volunteers also did a nice job with the set, creating an authentic-looking rustic summer cabin with mounted trophies, bird decoys and racks of books.
Performances are at 7:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 pm Sundays through November 19. Reserved-seat tickets are $20 for adults and $14 for students and can be purchased online at lwlt.org or by calling 863-676-1266. The theater box office is open for in-person advance purchases from 10:00 am. until 2:00 pm on Wednesdays.
The intimate, 140-seat theater is located at 411 N. 3rd Street, and offers raked seating for good visibility. The show is likely to sell out, especially the matinee performances, so advance purchase is highly recommended.