Newnan Community Theatre presents 'On Golden Pond'

Mary Caroline Moore and Tony Daniel “aged up” for their roles as Ethel and Norman Thayer in “On Golden Pond.” Photo/Special.

A conversation with Sarah Jordan, director of the show

By Joan Doggrell
Special to The Citizen

“On Golden Pond,” directed by NCTC’s own Sarah Jordan, opens at the Newnan Community Theatre on November 10. The highly acclaimed movie “On Golden Pond,” made in 1981, starred Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda.  Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda won best actress and best actor Oscars for their roles.

Sarah, will “On Golden Pond” be the first play you’ve directed?

No, this is my second show. My first was “The Odd Couple” in 2009.  I enjoy directing relationship-based, character-driven shows rather than big musicals or comedies. “On Golden Pond” is very much about the relationships between an older couple and their daughter.

You are an NCTC NITWIT and played a role in Ken Ludwig’s “Twentieth Century.” What other theatre work have you done?

Since 2006 I’ve performed in two or three NCTC shows a year. One of my favorite roles was Annelle in “Steel Magnolias.”  I’ve particularly enjoyed playing in small, three-person shows such as “Down the Road,” about a couple interviewing a serial killer for a book, as well as “And Baby Makes Seven,” wherein two women and a man have to rid their apartment of three imaginary children in order to make room for a real baby.

Will your interpretation be based on the movie?

Our interpretation will be a little bit different from the movie. But the themes are still the same: what it means to love in all the different ways you can love somebody, and how you get those relationships of love to the place where you want them to be.

Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn were big names in their day but were actually moving on into their own golden years.  Jane Fonda played daughter Chelsea. As the movie was being filmed, the relationship between Henry and Jane Fonda was not good. And so they used the film as a way to reconcile themselves. There are moments where Henry actually starts to cry and turns away because he was connecting with his daughter after so many years.

Is the evolving relationship between father and daughter the major plot line?

That’s definitely one of them. There are two major plot lines: the first is that Norman is not only getting older but also displaying early signs of Alzheimer’s and starting to have some heart problems.  The overarching plot revolves around Ethel’s concern for his forgetfulness and deterioration, plus his own awareness of his impending demise. But the second plot line is based on his daughter’s estrangement from him – far more so than from Ethel, although the relationship between Chelsea and Ethel is not ideal either.  She doesn’t come home very often, and her parents are kind of closed out of her life. They don’t know about things that are going on with her.

Talk about your “On Golden Pond” players.

The characters in this play say things with their mouths but are conveying a completely different underlying message. We’re fortunate to have some very skilled actors who are doing a good job of pulling that out.

Tony Daniel is playing Norman Thayer, and Mary Caroline Moore is playing Ethel Thayer. Since both are significantly younger than the parts they will be portraying, they must work to physically age themselves in terms of how they move, their voices and their delivery. In their auditions, their interaction was amazing. The relationship feels very real and lived in.

Raina Bass is playing the part of Chelsea, the Thayers’ daughter. Raina had a small part in “Twentieth Century,” which was her first role at NCTC and her first acting experience. Now she’s doing her second show with a very large part and doing a fantastic job. She makes it all seem effortless. The relationship that Chelsea and her father have is, on the surface, not enjoyable, but they are both good at portraying an underlying yearning for a real relationship.  So much time has passed, and they don’t know how to change the path that they’ve gone on and get back to where they’d like to be. Their relationship and their attempts to reconcile and make up for lost time really drive the play.

Kevin McInturff is playing the part of the man that Chelsea ultimately marries. Though he hasn’t done any shows for awhile, he’s an NCTC regular. Casey Bunce is playing his young son, Billy Ray Junior. This is Casey’s first show here, though he’s done a lot with Legacy Theatre in Tyrone. He’s the only kid in the show, so Casey really has his work cut out for him. He must interact with actors who are much older, but he holds his own with all the sass and spunk you would want and a really good relationship with Norman. The two bond over the course of the summer. They do a fantastic job with that chemistry.

The last character in the show is Charlie the mailman, who’s known the family as long as they’ve been coming to Golden Pond for the summer. He is the same age as the daughter and was in love with her all through their growing up. He is played by Jason Schmidt, (who did all the heating and air for NCTC). Jason hadn’t done a whole lot of shows until this past year, when he played in “Rumors” and “Twentieth Century.” This will be his third NCTC role.  So that’s our cast.

The passing of time is making the Thayer family realize they don’t have forever. These relationships that aren’t where they want them to be have to be fixed today. You can’t wait for tomorrow because you just don’t know what it will bring.

Dates for “On Golden Pond” are November 10, 11, 12 17, 18, and 19 at 8 p.m. and November 13 and 20 at 3 p.m. 

Newnan Community Theatre Company is located in historic downtown Newnan at 24 First Avenue.  For more information and reservations, visit their website at www.newnantheatre.org  or call  770-683-6282.

Watch www.newnantheatre.org for upcoming details.Watch www.newnantheatre.org  for more details about upcoming Christmas shows and the opportunity to purchase 2012-2013 season tickets.

If you have questions regarding the content of this or any NCTC show, email Artistic Director Paul Conroy at paulpatrickconroy@yahoo.com.