Arctic’s Heartwarming On Golden Pond

 

Sometimes all you need are the right mix of performers to make a show shine, and the cast of the Arctic Playhouse’s production of On Golden Pond did just that.

Terry Simpson shows some sharp comic timing as the grumpy, yet endearing, curmudgeon Norman Thayer, who is staying at his lakeside home in Maine with his long-suffering wife Ethel (well-played by Sandy Cerel, who co-directed the show with Christopher Margadonna). The couple have been staying on Golden Pond for the last 47 summers. Norman is a bit of a recluse, while free-spirited Ethel enjoys the great outdoors.

Their lives change following a visit from their middle-aged daughter Chelsea (a vibrant Cherylee Dumas) who has brought along her new fiancé Bill (Steven Dulude) and his teenage son Billy Ray, played by Ethan Clarke, a wonderfully natural young actor. Christopher Verleger delivers a funny performance as the Thayers’ longtime mailman Charlie, a bit of an eccentric who once had a fling with Chelsea.

Playwright Ernest Thompson’s script is sweet and sentimental, but has plenty of crackling dialogue. There’s a strong sense of place – a broken screen door that won’t keep the bugs out, Ethel’s amazement at the loons she sees through the window – all underlined by the family photos hanging on the walls.

The 1981 movie starred the legendary Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn as Norman and Ethel. Those are big shoes to fill for any actor. Simpson and Cerel wisely decided to bring their own unique interpretations to the characters.

The dramatic highpoint comes when Chelsea and Norman deal with their long strained relationship. Chelsea’s insecurities come to light after Norman befriends Billy and takes him fishing. All of this works very well, thanks to the high quality of the acting and directing. The Thayers and their family are people you will want to spend a few hours getting to know better.

On Golden Pond runs through October 14. The Arctic Playhouse. 117 Washington St, West Warwick. TheArcticPlayhouse.com 401-573-3443.

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