Most people have probably seen “On Golden Pond” the movie, a film interpretation of a 1979 play that garnered several Oscar awards in 1981, including performances from Silver Screen giants Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
And if you want to revisit this engaging American drama after a week of dealing with a hurricane, head to the North Fork Community Theater this weekend for a great interpretation of a tale of family dysfunction and reunion.
“On Golden Pond” stars Rusty Kransky as Norman Thayer — the “old poop” of a husband and father made famous by Henry Fonda in the film, Marion Stark as supportive wife and mother Ethel Thayer, Bill Kitzerow as Charlie Martin the mailman, Tom Cordisco as Bill Ray, Noah Ludlow as teenager Billy Ray, and Che Sabalja as Chelsea — daughter to the Thayers and estranged from her cold father, who turns 80 during the play.
Sabalja is a strong character actress who handles the role Jane Fonda made famous in the film. Chelsea is a 42-year-old career woman who never had children and now has a new boyfriend — Bill Ray, who visits the Thayers’ summer cabin on Golden Pond in Maine with Chelsea and his son, Billy. Noah Ludlow as Billy is a flush-faced teen who pulls off the right amount of curse-word angst while interacting with Norman, played to 80-year-old curmudgeonly perfection by Kransky, who is much younger than the role he is given in this production.
Norman and Chelsea were never close — he still refers to this beautiful woman as “fat,” looking at a picture of her when she was an awkward teen — and as we all remember from the film, Chelsea confronts him this particular summer on Golden Pond:
“I want to be your friend,” she tells her elderly father, who is suffering from memory loss. Norman later tells his daughter that he loves her over the phone. Both scenes are tearjerkers and leave you wondering why and how inter-family relationships that could have been loving are wasted due to life-long personal insecurities and fears.
With direction from Robert Horn, production by Babette Corine and set design by George and Lynn Summers, “On Golden Pond” truly is a golden local production, a reminder of how important family really is, especially after the experience of a hurricane that made us all get a little closer as human beings.
See "On Golden Pond" at the North Fork Community Theater Nov. 3 and 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18. Performances start at 8 p.m., matinees begin at 2:30 p.m.