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Theatre Review (Glendale): On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson at Glendale Centre Theatre

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On Golden Pond is a play by Ernest Thompson that appeared on Broadway in 1973. It starred Tom Aldredge and Francis Sternhagen. Thompson adapted his play to make a 1983 movie starring Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda.

The film was immensely popular but was notable for several reasons. Jane Fonda had bought the rights of the play so that her father could play the cantankerous father Norman Thayer. The strained relationship between Norman and his daughter Chelsea parallel the real life rocky relationship between the Fondas. The film was also notable in that, prior to this film, Hepburn and Henry Fonda had never met. Their work together spurred both to give performances of their lives and won them both several awards. The movie was also Henry Fonda’s last film.

Glendale Centre Theatre is presenting this old chestnut and features a first rate cast and a terrific director, Gloria Gifford. Veteran performers Andrew Prine and Salome Jens play the elder Thayers. They give lovely performances, though Ms. Jens had hurt her foot and it tended to slow her down and confuse her some. The play had also been directed to have a slow pace, so this added time to an already lengthy play.

The couple’s estranged daughter was played by Brenda Dietlan, the wife of the Artistic Director. She serves the part well. A handsome Blake Boyd plays her fiancé. His scene with Norman is definitely a highlight. His 13-year old son is played by the lively Adam Simon Krist. He brings a freshness and energy to the play that is delightful. I think this young actor has a future in the business (if he wants it).

On Golden Pond is really an old chestnut but has many laughs and is bound to provoke a tear or two. On Golden Pond will play at Glendale Centre Theatre until Aug. 11.

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