I remember seeing "On Golden Pond" when it first came out. We went as a family. Multiple generations all sitting together and we all had something we could identify with. At the time I could identify with Billy Jr., bored out of his mind spending the dog days of summer with grandparents. That is the power of Ernest Thompson's dramedy, or for some it may seem like a drama, with a dash of comedy.
The tale is a simple one, but it remains relevant 30 years later because there's something for everyone to identify with. Perhaps you were in your 40s when you saw it, and now you feel for Norman Thayer. Thirty years later, the pre-teens can now relate to Chelsea Thayer, divorced, in her 40s and starting over. For those of you who have never seen it, "Pond" is the tale of Norman Thayer, a man preparing for his 80th birthday at the family summer home in Maine. The role is best known as Henry Fonda's swansong for which he won his only Academy Award. Opposite Fonda as wife, Ethel, was Katharine Hepburn who earned a record fourth Best Actress Award for the role. Norman has had a long-standing bumpy relationship with daughter Chelsea, who comes to visit with her new fiance, Billy Ray, before jetting off to Europe for a month. Upon arrival, Chelsea poses the idea that Norman and Ethel take care of Billy Ray's son Billy, Jr. for the summer. In time Norman bonds with Billy, perhaps as the son Chelsea could never be.
Steven Dascoulias, director of the MOS production, shared his thoughts with me.
Bill Love and Ann Marie Wilder star in Maui OnStage’s “On Golden Pond.”
JACK GRACE photo
"I don't know that my perspective is different, it is perhaps richer. As years pass and one's life experiences unfold, a deeper understanding and appreciation comes about."
This is Dascoulias' third time around with "Pond." In 1996, he was in the world premiere musical adaptation of "On Golden Pond," directed by Ernest Thompson, called "Another Summer" with Seacoast Repertory Theater in New Hampshire. In 2007, he directed another New England production. I asked him to share his thoughts about the Maui cast.
"I am delighted. Bill Love, who plays Norman, has great stature and maturity. He understands and appreciates Norman's sarcasm and humor. Ann Marie Wilder captures the warmth and heart of Ethel, Ute Finch fully conveys Chelsea's sense of unresolved family tension. It's a tremendous pleasure to work with this outstanding group of Maui actors.
For actor Love, this is his second time around with Norman, but this time he is the same age.
"I find my greatest challenge these days is to actually find a challenge! I'm like Norman for the most part. I have no pressing goals to accomplish. When I learned that Maui OnStage was going to be producing the play in the spring, I leapt at the chance to reprise the part. I immediately dug up my old script and set about relearning the lines. And, along with the task of memorizing, I had the internal tension of wondering whether I would win the part via audition. Terrifying but exhilarating. In a sense, I came alive," said Love.
A part-time Maui resident who spends six months a year in the Chicago area, Love has been performing with the Theatre of Western Springs for the past 31 years. Playing Norman's true love is Wilder as Ethel. I asked her about playing a role so attributed to Katharine Hepburn.
"I don't think too much about Katharine Hepburn, I think about Ethel and how she fits into 'On Golden Pond,' although my mum is 93, and she's a big fan (of Hepburn's). She even has a few signed letters from her. I can identify with Norman's failing health, memory loss, from my own experiences. She is thrilled I'm playing the part, but she thinks it's a movie."
* Maui OnStage presents "On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson at the Historic Iao Theater Friday through May 6. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $40, $22 and $15. Dinner packages are available with Cafe O'Lei and Bistro Casanova. For reservations or more information call 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com.
Also this weekend
The Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin High School Thespian Troupe present "Play On!" by Rick Abbott, directed by Linda Carnevale, weekend nights Friday through April 29. Roles in this special production are open only to the Baldwin students honored with being Thespians.
"Play On!" is the story of a theater group trying desperately to put on a play in spite of Murphy's Law. Actors, technicians and the director are all caught up in this madcap comedy.
n Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 2 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28; and 5 p.m. Sundays in the Baldwin High School Loudon Mini-Theatre. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 seniors and $7 age 17 and younger. The box office opens one hour before showtime. The Thespians Troupe will be hosting a Gala Fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. April 28 prior to that evening's performance that includes pre-show entertainment, desserts and beverages. Gala ticket prices are $17 adults, $15 seniors, $13 students ages 11 to 17, and $10 children age 10 and younger. All proceeds will go toward this year's Thespian Troupe scholarships and next year's student New York trip.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents its 23rd annual recital, "Dance Showcase 2012," in the Performing Arts Studio this weekend and next. This year's showcase includes "Velvet Voices: The American Song Book" with pieces from every level of the dance and ballet classes.
Dance teachers David Ward, Andre Morissette and Vanessa Cerrito have choreographed to music that will feature the lush voices of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, The Manhattan Transfer, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James.
* Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee April 29. Tickets are $11 adults, $9 senior citizens and $5 for students. For more information and reservations, call 573-1257.
The world premiere of "Lesser Ahi," created by Francis Tau'a and Derek Nakagawa, directed by David C. Johnston happens Friday. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through May 5 at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
* Tickets are $16 adults, $14 seniors and $12 students. For reservations or more information call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
"Cinderella" continues through Sunday at the ProArts Playhouse. Performances are at 7:30 tonight and Friday, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday.
* Tickets are $15 for reserved seating or $10 for the keiki floor seating. For reservations or more information call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Power Up Comedy presents "The 420 Comedy Weekend" headlined by comic Greg Wilson, or "The Greg Wilson" as he prefers. Greg Gutfeld, host of FOX News' "Red-Eye" calls Wilson "funnier than just about any comic out there today. He might possibly be the wildest comic ever, and that includes Sam Kinison!" Wilson has appeared on "Modern Family," "Ugly Betty," "Law & Order" and "White Boyz in the Hood," as well as headlining comedy clubs, festivals and casinos across the country.
The "420 Comedy Weekend" begins Friday night where Wilson will join Doug Wyckoff, Sunny Dennis and Teresa Sickels. The Friday show also features a bikini fashion show by sponsor Pakaloha Bikinis. Wilson will also headline the Saturday show joined by Curtis "Chino" LaForge, Doc Titanium and Jason Strahn.
* The performances are at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Stella Blues Caf. Tickets are $20 in advance through powerupcome dy.com, in person at any Pakaloha Bikini outlets or $25 at the door.
Catch George Lopez's "That's The America I Live In" at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Lopez is one of the most popular comics in America with a career that encompasses television, films and stand-up comedy. His last Maui stand up performance was a huge sold-out success inspiring this return engagement featuring all new material. The performance is intended for adults and contains mature content.
* Tickets are $43.50 and $58.50, plus applicable fees. To purchase last-minute tickets, visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
King Kekaulike Dramatic Arts Company presents "Huckleberry Finn," April 27 though May 6. Enjoy this musical comedy adaptation of Mark Twain's classic tale of Tom Sawyer (Dylan Thomas) and Huck Finn (Levi Young) on a series of adventures and mishaps along the Mississippi River.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays in the King Kekaulike cafetorium. Tickets are available at the door only, a half-hour before the show. Tickets are adults $8, students $4.