Highlands Little Theater presents “On Golden Pond,” written by Ernest Thompson, today (Wednesday) through Sunday, Jan. 26. While this is still a deep and everlasting love story between Ethel and Norman Thayer, it not exactly like the movie of the same name made famous by Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda.
Peter Pollard has a dual role in this play – he stars as retired Professor Norman Thayer and also Directs “On Golden Pond.” His real life wife, Tammy Pollard, plays Ethel Thayer. Todd Coleman plays Charlie Martin, the local mailman. His wife, Erika Weaver Coleman, plays Ethel and Norman’s daughter, Chelsea Thayer Wayne. Her fiancé, Dr. Bill Ray, is played by Joshua McGee. Mark Reyes plays the son, Billy.
“We waited a long time to do this together,” said Tammy Pollard. “Before, Pete and I were too young. I love these characters so much. We’ll do whatever it takes to make this work.”
“It’s different from the movie,” she continues, the passion showing on her face and in her voice. “Our play is more of a comedy. Henry Fonda’s Norman was very harsh. Pete’s Norman likes to play with people’s minds. Ethel is the only one who really understands him. She loves him deeply and worries about him as she knows he is starting to fail.”
The play begins with Ethel and Norman returning to their summer home in Maine, Golden Pond. Norman will be celebrating his 80th birthday during the summer. Mailman Charlie Martin brings Ethel a letter from daughter, Chelsea. Chelsea is divorced but has found love again in Dr. Bill Ray (the dentist). Bill has a 13-year-old son; Chelsea has never had children. Charlie, although somewhat slow, has always had feelings for Chelsea.
Chelsea and Norman are estranged; she calls him “Norman,” not Dad. Chelsea has always tried to be the “son” that Norman wanted and to gain his approval. The problem is they are so much alike that they have problems communicating with each other. Chelsea decides to come to the summer house for Norman’s 80th birthday and is bringing her new fiancé and his son.
The interaction between the characters is lively and comedic. Norman is gruff and cynical to hide the fact that he is scared. He is getting older, is insecure and having memory issues. Ethel understands Norman and loves him deeply.
The interplay is on many levels: relationships (Ethel and Norman), (Norman and Chelsea), (Chelsea and Charlie), (Norman and Bill) and (Norman and Billy). All are complex and very entertaining.
Mark Reyes, who plays Billy, is playing a role completely out of character for him. “Billy is not like anyone I’ve ever done before. He curses – a lot! He’s a brat with a bad attitude.”
HLT’s “On Golden Pond” is not one that you want to miss. The characters are played with such realism and passion that you believe you are a guest in the Thayers’ summer home watching the family dynamics play out. However, watch out for Norman while you’re there!