I had the rare pleasure of watching a theatrical production this past Saturday evening, as my husband escorted me to a performance of "On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson at The Fly Arts Center here in Shelbyville...and without one of our six children accompanying us!
As a mother of young children and patient of FMS/CFS, my social outings are frequently limited. So in full disclosure, I will admit that I made excuse after excuse not to attend this play. Truthfully, I only surrendered my protest in support of one of the leading actors, Neal Gordon, who coaches my daughter's soccer team at Central High School. Neal plays the role of Norman Thayer, jr.
Directed by Deborah Obenchain, the play opens in the living room of a nostalgic country home on Golden Pond in New England, and we bear witness as an elderly couple prepares to spend their 48th summer among the loons of Golden Pond. As the [nonexistent] curtain rises for Act I, we witness a "much aged" Neil Gordon enter the scene as a prickly, cantankerous, ill-tempered old man complaining about the tattered condition of his summer home. Entering shortly behind Norman is his wife Ethel Thayer, played by Karen Lewis.
So convincing were the two actors with their incessant bickering, that I found myself whispering to my husband, "you know, we could have gone to your dad's and watched this for free." It doesn't take long to see through the couple's squabbling fašade and unearth the love that has bound these two people for decades.
The play carries us through the summer duration in monthly intervals at the start of each new scene, and along the way we are introduced to other characters whose lives have been, or will soon become intertwined with those of our leading couple. The approach of Norman's 80th birthday brings forth the return of his estranged daughter Chelsea Thayer Wayne, played by Ashley Thomas. Accompanying Chelsea to Golden Pond are her new boyfriend Billy Ray, played by Ron Obenchain, and his 13 year old son Billy Ray, jr., played by young Sam Sinquefield.
Perhaps the most "laughable" character in the play was Charlie Martin, a middle-aged postman played by Clifford Nelson. Charlie's infectious laugh sprinkled throughout the scenes had the audience joining in within minutes. Filled with clever snip-its and wise remarks, On Golden Pond is a combination of romantic drama and comical whimsy. The actors convey such great fervor that you almost see the green leaves of summer beginning to fade as the play comes to a close in scene 2 of the last act.
While each actor effectively breathed life into his/her role, special mention should be made to Neal Gordon and Karen Lewis, whose character portrayals were so passionate and moving that I was forced to discreetly wipe the tears from my eyes, lest I be subject to banter by my husband. And I extend a special "thank you" to everyone--both on stage and behind the scenes--for a job well done...bravo!
I am grateful to my husband for his insistence that I accompany him to the screening of On Golden Pond. I was surprisingly entertained and incredibly touched. Who knew we had such great talent right here among us.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, On Golden Pond will give one final performance at The Fly Art Center in Shelbyville (next to the library) this Friday, October 2nd, beginning at 7:00pm. Ticket prices range between $5-12, depending upon adult/student distinction and seating preference. For more information call (931) 703-7613