Family dynamics and fishing reels fill the classic American drama “On Golden Pond.”
Sonora’s Stage 3 Theatre Company will stage a production of the Tony-nominated play beginning July 11 and running through Aug. 10.
The intimate family drama, which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film by the same name, focuses on an elderly couple staying at their summer cottage on a lake called Golden Pond as their estranged daughter and her new fiancé and stepson come to visit.
Stage 3 Artistic Director Van Gordon said he picked the play because of its enduring popular appeal. First produced on Broadway in 1979, the story by Ernest Thompson tackles family relationships and aging.
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“It’s a very touching family story,” Gordon said. “It’s a real family show. We don’t do many family shows here, so I thought we might get rid of the edginess a bit, and this is suitable for the whole family. During the summer, it’s nice to have a family shows.”
The production stars Michael Lynch and Francine La Meire as Norman and Ethel Thayer, who own the summer home on Golden Pond. Katryn Weston stars as their daughter, Chelsea, and Ben Adriano as her fiancé, Billy Ray. Gordon’s 13-year-old son, Colin Gordon, makes his Stage 3 debut as Billy Ray Jr.
The actors will step into the roles made famous on screen by Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. The elder Fonda and Hepburn took home best actor/actress Oscars for their portrayals, and playwright Thompson, who also penned the script, won for best adapted screenplay.
The Stage 3 show is being directed by Sonora newcomer Jon Dambacher, who has performed and worked in Sacramento and Los Angeles. This will be the first time the community theater company has put on the play.
For those familiar with the film, the play stays true to the story. Much like in the movie, there are turmoil and secrets but also a lot of heart, Gordon said.
The stage production will be set inside the Thayer family cabin.
“(The play) has been a little bit revised and revamped over the years, but it is the same wonderful story you’ve known all this time,” Gordon said.