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‘On Golden Pond’ warms hearts at heritage hall

This past Saturday evening, the Johnson County Community Theatre delivered their second performance of the play, “On Golden Pond.” This local group shared their many talents as the audience was immediately transported to the summer home of Norman Thayer, Jr., and his wife, Ethel, located on the shores of a lake known as Golden Pond.
Each year, Norman and Ethel spend their summers on Golden Pond. This year marks the 48th summer the couple has spent in this tranquil area of Maine. This particular summer, Norman is now reaching the age of 80, while Ethel is in her late sixties. Despite Ethel’s protests, Norman claims they are just on the other side of middle age. Dean Whitworth plays the part of Norman Thayer, Jr., and his talent soon becomes apparent as the audience laughs at his telephone conversation with the operator as he tries to determine if the telephone is in working order. Norman, eccentric with a dry sense of humor, is preoccupied with dying this particular summer. As the operator places a call to the Thayer’s home on Norman’s request, he quips, “It isn’t Saint Peter, is it?” Gazing out the screen door, Ethel, played by Judy Walsh, excitedly informs Norman, “I spotted the loons.” Reaching for the binoculars, the Thayers observe the loons who habitat upon Golden Pond. As they watch, Ethel believes the loons are kissing.

Scene Two opens as Norman searches for jobs in the classified ads, but not without protest from Ethel. Announcing to Norman that looking for a job at his age is nonsense, Ethel leaves the house to pick berries. In the meantime, their post man, Charlie Martin, played by Carl Michael Howard, delivers their mail via boat. Pleased to see the Thayers for yet another summer, Charlie sits down with a cup of coffee and reminisces with Norman. Years ago, Charlie was infatuated with Chelsea Thayer, the daughter of Norman and Ethel. Chelsea has just sent a letter informing her parents she is coming for a visit, along with her boyfriend, who is a dentist, and his son. Norman’s wit again shows as he declares, “He’ll be staring at our teeth.”
After sending Norman out to pick berries, Ethel confides to Charlie that she is worried. “Norman is restless,” she shares. Norman comes back all too quickly, his bucket empty of berries. In a poignant moment, Norman sits down on the couch and tells Ethel nothing was familiar. He didn’t recognize the road or the trees near their home. Declaring that he needed to come back home “to see your pretty little face,” Norman puts his hands up to his eyes, clearly upset. In a heartfelt scene, Ethel puts her arms around her aging husband.

The next scene opens with a table full of balloons, along with a handmade sign welcoming Chelsea home. The part of Chelsea is played by Dorinda Walters. Ethel is anxious for Norman and Chelsea to get along well this visit, something that hasn’t always happened in the past. Chelsea soon arrives with her boyfriend, Bill, and his son, Billy. The part of Bill Ray is played by Michael Eggers, and his son, Billy Ray, is played by Coty Brewer. As mother and daughter embrace, it becomes obvious that the relationship between Norman and Chelsea is strained. Chelsea refers to her father as “Norman.” When Bill inquires as to why Chelsea calls her father by his given name, Norman explains that some fathers are dads, and others aren’t. Bill approaches the delicate subject of where he and Chelsea will sleep while visiting the Thayers. The banter between the two on this topic has the audience in stitches as Norman obviously enjoys watching Bill’s reactions. Billy extends his stay with the Thayers as Chelsea and Bill go to Europe on a month-long vacation. Soon, Billy and Norman become fast friends as they spend many hours fishing out on the lake.
All too soon, their time together comes to an end as Chelsea returns to take Billy back home. Bill and Chelsea married during their time in Europe. Chelsea and Norman finally talk about their strained relationship, with Chelsea revealing that she wants to mend their differences and become friends. Announcing to her father that she doesn’t want to be mad at him anymore, Norman shares, “I thought we just didn’t like each other.”
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!