Riverfront brings funny to ‘On Golden Pond’
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media March 7, 2013 10:08AM
‘On Golden Pond’
♦ March 8-April 14
♦ The Riverfront Playhouse, 11-13 South Water Street Mall, Aurora
♦ Tickets, $15-$17
♦ (630) 897-9496
Updated: March 7, 2013 10:08AM
For Tim Curtis, who is directing “On Golden Pond” at The Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora, getting people to change their minds about the show is the biggest obstacle in presenting the familiar play.
“I think the greatest challenge is breaking the expectation that the play is like the movie,” said Curtis about the 1981 film version of the play which starred Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. “While there are similarities, the stage version is a comedy.”
“On Golden Pond” will be presented from March 8 to April 14 at The Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora.
“The stage version of the story has more humor in it than does the movie,” Curtis continued. “The movie adaptation emphasized the drama of the story, but it left out much of the humor of the stage play. I think a lot of people are going to pleasantly surprised at just how funny this show really is.”
Written by Ernest Thompson, “On Golden Pond” centers on Norman and Ethel Thayer (played by Gary Puckett and Brenda Scharlau), an aging couple, who spend each summer at their home on a lake called Golden Pond in Maine. During the time in which the story takes place, their daughter, Chelsea (Kelly Christofferson), comes to visit them and brings her fiancé, Bill (Peter Christofferson), and his son, Billy (Ryan Bamrick).
The play explores the relationship that Chelsea shared with her father growing up, and the difficulties faced by a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage. During the course of the play, Billy ends up being, in the words of Ethel, “the best thing that happened to Norman since Roosevelt.” As summer fades, Norman and Ethel know that the years have been good to them and perhaps another summer at Golden Pond still awaits.
Curtis said that casting the play posed a bit of a challenge.
“It was a tough show to cast,” he said. “There were lots of talented people who came out to audition for this production. In the end I looked for people who could sell the characters they are playing.”
As for any message that the play might convey, Curtis thinks that getting opportunities to alter your life may be one thing that people can draw from the story.
“In the play, Norman gets the ability to fix his relationship with his daughter and changes his outlook on life and he learns a thing or two from Billy,” Curtis said “I think the message is that its never too late to change.”