See the classic American comedy/drama "On Golden Pond" at La Comedia Dinner Theatre in Springboro Aug. 15 - Sep. 8, 2019.
Aug. 15 - Sep. 8, 2019
On Golden Pond is a classic American comedy/drama that’s every bit as touching, warm, and witty today as when it debuted on Broadway in 1979. The Academy Award-winning 1981 film adaptation starred Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda.
Retired couple Ethel and Norman Thayer spend every summer at their home on Golden Pond. This year, their adult daughter visits, bringing along her fiancé’s teenage son. The turbulent relationship between father and daughter, the generation gap between young and old, and the difficulties facing a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage, make for a moving play that gives us unique insight into the modern American family.
I’d be hard pressed to think of a theatrical production more real than ‘On Golden Pond.’ It’s not just the lack of any musical or dance numbers, minus the Camp Koochakiyi song, that makes it so realistic. The script and performances are very true to life. Matter of fact, if you are in your twilight years, or live with someone who is, you might see a reflection of yourself in ‘On Golden Pond.’ Even if in your mid-day years of life, La Comedia’s production of ‘On Golden Pond’ will speak to you. Other than knowing the 1981 film is popular amongst senior citizens, I went in blind and honestly somewhat hesitant to see the show. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of laughs it contains.
The cast is absolute perfection, led by Ernie Rowland as Norman Thayer Jr., an Archie Bunker type curmudgeon. Though deep down under all his gruffness is a big heart. Norman might be an ‘old poop,’ but Rowland comes out smelling like a rose with his performance. It’s a role he was born to play, he just had to wait a long time for it. Rowland is paired with Denise Cox, best known for the Church Basement Ladies, as his wife, Ethel. Cox and Rowland are better together than most real-life married couples, at least according to statistics. Their performances will make those over fifty forget about Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda? Those under fifty have never heard of them anyway.
In addition to a screen door that won’t stay on its hinges, another thorn in the side of Norman is the relationship with his daughter, Chelsea. It’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t adore the beautiful Karie-Lee Sutherland as Chelsea. She makes a real splash, though not from a backflip, when appearing for a visit.
It’s time for some great news, Chris Kramer has apparently discovered the fountain of youth. That means his career is nowhere near winding down. Kramer plays Billy Ray, Chelsea’s boyfriend, and looks to be decades younger. He still performs like a seasoned veteran though. A highlight of the show is a talk of a very sensitive nature about the sleeping arrangements that Billy has with Norman. More is revealed than Billy ever wanted to hear and the results are hilarious.
Some youth or at least some new lingo is also found by Norman from Billy Ray Jr. The role is split between Ben Locke and Devon Adams. A teenaged boy with no filter, Billy Ray Jr., paints the stage with some colorful language. Much of the show’s heart comes from the bond formed between Norman and Billy Ray Jr., who manage to find some common ground despite all the differences between them.
The cast also includes Digger Howard as Charlie, a dim-witted mailman who delivers lots of laughs, both figuratively and literally. From the accent to his fun-loving nature, Howard totally embodies the role…ha,ha,ha!
The break from a musical with a straight play is nice. There’s so much to enjoy about ‘On Golden Pond’ that you don’t even miss the musical numbers. You’ll laugh and likely shed a tear as with just simple lines of dialogue this cast brings out a symphony of emotions. ‘On Golden Pond’ at La Comedia’ is a must see, and that’s no b-s.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.
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