WESTERLY — Ernest Thompson's "On Golden Pond," the nostalgic story centered around an aging Norman Thayer, Jr.; his devoted wife, Ethel; their 40-something daughter, Chelsea Thayer Wayne; Chelsea's fiancé, Bill Ray; and Bill's teenage son, Billy; as they gather in the living room of the family's summer house in Maine, opens at the Granite Theater for a three-week run Friday.
Granite Artistic Directors David and Beth Jepson, who are married in real life, will play the roles of Norman and Ethel (played by Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in the film version.) David Jepson directs the perennial favorite.
Granite regular Michelle Mania will play the role of the Thayer's daughter, Chelsea, (the part played by Jane Fonda in the film,) and Jude Pescatello, another Granite regular, will play Bill Ray. Patrick Conaway tackles the role of Billy, and Michael Chiaradio returns to the stage to play Charlie Martin, the typical Maine down-Easterner, local mailman, and long-time family friend.
"On Golden Pond" has been called a love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the 48th year. Norman, a retired professor with a failing memory, is still as tart-tongued, as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, delights in all the small things that have enriched their life together. They are visited by Chelsea and her Bill, who then go off to Europe, leaving young Billy behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the grandchild the elderly couple have longed for, even as he proves to be a handful.
"On Golden Pond," is often perceived as a serious drama, David Jepson said in an email, but it's actually both a comedy and a drama and "often matches the funniest one-liners of any Neil Simon play."
The play will have its own nostalgia wrapped into it as it will mark the final time the Jepsons will appear together on stage ahead of their retirement at the end of the season.
The 2005 Tony Award for "Best Revival of a Play," Variety called "On Golden Pond" "... a rare and memorable theatrical experience ..."
— Nancy Burns-Fusaro