**** Theatre at the Center starts their 2015 season with a fresh take on an old-fashioned love story, “On Golden Pond”. Stars Dennis Kelly and Ami Sylvestre – who really are together – are absolutely charming. Even though I knew many of the lines, I still laughed because Kelly’s timing and delivery was impeccable. Personally, I’d love to move right into their cozy summer home and curl up with a book. I give “On Golden Pond” 4 Spotlights.
The set is gorgeous, a summer cottage furnished with comfortable furniture and built-in bookshelves. A path leading to the road is just outside the front door. The back door, complete with falling screen door, leads to the pier and the lake.
Norman (Dennis Kelly) and Ethel (Ami Sylvestre) spend their summers at their home on Golden Pond, a large lake in Maine. When they arrive in early May, they have a routine – Ethel says hello to the lake and to the loons; Norman makes sure the telephone is working by making the operator call him back.
The first time Charlie Martin (Norm Boucher) pulls up to the dock to deliver the mail, Ethel invites him up to the house for coffee. On the first visit of the year, he catches Ethel up on all the local news and reminisces about his teenaged friendship with their daughter, Chelsea.
One day in July, Chelsea (Adria Dawn), who has a difficult relationship with her father, arrives at the lake with her brand new fiancé, Bill Ray (Dan Rodden), and his thirteen year-old son, Billy (Luke Michael Klein), in tow. She asks Ethel if Billy can stay with them while she and Bill travel to Europe. Norman and Billy spend the month bonding over books and fishing, spending almost every day out on the lake.
When Chelsea comes to pick up Billy, she spews her bitterness and anger over her relationship with her father, which she says was dismal, to her mother. Ethel refuses to listen to Chelsea, basically telling her to get over herself.
There’s a lot less of Chelsea’s angst in Ernest Thompson’s 1979 play than there is in the 1981 movie. Since Henry Fonda and his daughter Jane were cast, they added confrontational scenes between father and daughter that were not written for the play. By the way, watching Ethel slap Chelsea was kind of weird and hard to accept because of Sylvestre’s sweet face.
“On Golden Pond” runs through March 29th at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 2:00 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8:00; Sunday at 2:30. Additional performances are on select Thursday evenings or Wednesday matinees. Running time is just over 2 hours with an intermission. Tickets range from $40-$44. Parking is free and plentiful. FYI (219) 836-3255 or www.theatreatthecenter.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click “On Golden Pound”