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On Golden Pond
By:
Date performed:
Ernest Thompson
May 2003

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Details
"On Golden Pond" was first produced at the Hudson Guild Theatre in New York City on 13 September 1978 for a limited fun of 36 performances before transferring to Broadway at the Apollo Theatre, on 28 February 1979. It was well received by audiences and critics alike.

The play featured Tom Aldredge, Frances Sternhagen and Barbara Andres in its Broadway production. In one of its earlier performances, off Broadway, Tennessee Williams was in attendance. He said he loved the play but wished the characters didn't have to leave at the end. "Let them stay the winter" was his comment.

The play was so successful that it was quickly made into a film, a medium more familiar to its author. The film version starred Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda in the three leading adult roles. The film was also a huge success and was nominated for no less than ten Oscars.

In a year where "Chariots of Fire", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Reds" were in contention for awards, it went on to win a total of three major awards. Henry Fonda won an Academy Award for "An Actor in a Leading Role" and Katharine Hepburn won the "Acress in a Leading Role" category.

The author of the original play, Ernest Thompson, was also the screenwriter and he won an Academy award for his screenplay adaptation. This was to be the only major award of his screenwriting and directing career.

This was, of course, the second time that Tudor have performed "On Golden Pond" but how many of you will remember the first production?

The production was at the Library Theatre from 30 April to 4 May 1985. The play was well received by the audience but equally in the SADAT awards for that year, as Tudor won the "Dimberline Cup"

Thoughts from the Director, Peter Howard:

The original idea was simple. Trawl through the list of plays that Tudor has performed over the last thirty years or so and pick a season's worth of good quality plays that we have performed before and would like to perform again.

"When we are married" got us off to a traditional Yorkshire start. A timeless gentle comedy that still has the power to entertain after half a century.

Then a major change and the sexual revolution of the 1960s as satirised by Alan Bennett in "Haveas Corpus". Phil Gascoyne's production was a great success, despite an unbelievable number of changes to the original cast.

And then, to complete the season, "The Diary of Ann Frank" directed by Anna Hall... except that the play is suddenly withdrawn from amateurs and Anna is no longer able to direct this year.

Back to the drawing board. Then some buffoon suggests "On Golden Pond". I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a great play but the dangers are enormous.

Firstly, nobody remembers the play - they all remember the film and the parts of Norman and Chelsea Thayer as a father and daughter who could not communicate was mirrored by the actors, Henry and Jane Fonda. You need actors capable of following in the footsteps of Fonda, Hepburn and Fonda and in the case of Norman and Ethel Thayer you need actors who are, or cann convincingly play, characters of 79 and 69 respectively. A major challenge!

Then you have the problem of the setting. You look out of the window at the back of the set and see the woods and the hills and in the bottom the sun reflecting on Golden Pond. On the Library Theatre stage the distance between proscenium arch and cyclorama is less than twenty feet. Somehow you have to create a set and backing that will evoke this summer home in the woodlands of Maine, on the edge of Golden Pond.

Photographs
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Cast
Backstage
Norman Thayer Jr Brian Parker
Ethel Thayer Maureen Heath
Charlie Martin Martyn Jones
Chelsea Thayer Wayne Edwina Gascoyne
Billy Ray Jamie Barber
Bill Ray Chris Rooke

Director Peter Howard
Set Design Peter Howard
Nick Martin
Set Construction Bryan Ashcroft
Terry Bell
John Jakins
Nick Martin
Tony Webb
Stage Manager Ric Waterhouse
Lighting John Jakins
Sound Bryan Ashcroft
Continuity Andrea Howard
Front of House Carolyn Heslop
Members of the Group
Tickets Arthur Jakins
Joan Jakins