Live Theatre, Concerts & Events

Heartwarming play On Golden Pond opens June 28 at Studio Theatre

Some stories are timeless, because they’re founded on human truths that never change. They draw from the raw materials of our lives — love, family, longing, jealousy, fear of the future. And the older we get, the more we see ourselves in these wise, enduring narratives.

When the film On Golden Pond opened in theatres in 1981 — yes, 37 years ago — it struck a chord that still resonates across generations. On June 28th, our generation — whether we’re young, old, or somewhere in the middle — will once again be able to experience the heart and humour of On Golden Pond when the stage play opens at the Studio Theatre in Perth.

Author Ernest Thompson won well-deserved accolades (including the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay) for his story about Ethel and Norman Thayer, an aging couple who for decades have spent summers at their cottage on a northern lake called Golden Pond. As they arrive for this season, the cabin looks the same, everything in its place; even the honking of the loons is familiar and welcoming. But Norman is changing: he’s having trouble recognizing faces in family photos, and he’s talking more frequently about death and growing old. The family is changing, too. Norman and Ethel’s daughter, Chelsea — who for decades has had a strained relationship with her domineering father (perhaps bearing the cross of not having been born a boy) — arrives at the cottage with her boyfriend, Bill, and his teenage son Billy. When Chelsea and Bill go off on a European vacation, leaving Billy Junior with Ethel and Norman, a bond is created (at first reluctantly) as the generations begin to learn from each other. Ultimately, and ironically, the boy becomes a catalyst that helps to break the emotional stalemate between Norman and his daughter.
Director David Parry was anxious to bring this great story to the stage of the Studio Theatre.

“On Golden Pond is one of those shows that people know and love” he says. “It’s about the trials and tribulations of aging, but it’s also filled with humour, joy, and happy endings. We’re very fortunate to have a fine cast of actors to tell this poignant, beautifully nuanced story.”

Veteran actor Rob Glas (Over the River and Through the Woods) plays Norman Thayer, and Janet Rice, well known to Ottawa and Perth audiences for her theatre and film work, plays his wife, Ethel. Dana Ruprecht, a trained actress and veteran of theatre groups in the Toronto area, plays Chelsea, while Rob Rainer, who was seen most recently in the Studio Theatre’s production of 9 to 5, The Musical, is Chelsea’s boyfriend, Bill. Charlie the mailman is played by popular actor Hugh McCulloch, and young Billy is played by talented 12-year-old actor Ben Sproule. The set is designed by Reiner Silberhorn, and Penny Silberhorn is stage manager.

As it happens, there is a wonderfully sentimental aspect to the timing of this show.
Ten years ago, director David Parry starred in the first production of a brand new theatre company that would become Studio Theatre Productions. The show was On Golden Pond, and the director was none other than David’s wife, Patricia. Today, as David and Patricia Parry prepare to retire after 40 years of community theatre involvement — including a decade of deep commitment to the Studio Theatre — it is fitting that their final production is On Golden Pond, right here on their home stage.

On Golden Pond premieres at the Studio Theatre on Thursday, June 28th for seven performances, June 28, 29, 30, and July 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 pm, and July 8 at 2 pm.

NOTE: There is no performance on July 1st.

Advance tickets are $24 at Tickets Please in the Matheson House Museum Visitor Centre, 11 Gore St. E. (613 485-6434;; in-store, phone, online and credit card purchases) and at the Studio Theatre box office on show nights. Rush tickets for Students with ID are just $10 at the door, subject to availability. Attend opening night and save $5!

We hope you’ll come and spend a few hours On Golden Pond at the Studio Theatre, reliving this beloved classic. It is a family story that’s worth keeping in your heart, this summer and well beyond.

On Golden Pond, On Golden Pond in rehearsal: Ethel Thayer (Janet Rice) humours her curmudgeonly husband Norman (Rob Glas) in On Golden Pond, opening Thursday, June 28th at the Studio Theatre.

Article by Paul Joyce / Photo by Bruce Raby