Originally Published: December 1, 2016 9:09 p.m.
Where: PCA’s, Stage Too, Willis and Marina Steets
Tickets & Times: $17; 2 p.m. Dec. 4, 10, 11, 18 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 8, 10, 15, 16, 17
Info: www.pca-az.net or 928-445-3286
You probably know “On Golden Pond” as the 1981 film starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in roles for which they won Academy Awards.
But “On Golden Pond” was a play first, written in 1979 by Ernest Thompson, and it won its share of awards as well.
Now it’s being presented by Prescott Center for the Arts at its Stage Too black-box theater.
The plot revolves around Ethel (Judy Stahl) and Norman Thayer (Loring Snyder), a long-married couple that summers at a home on Golden Pond. This year, they’re visited by daughter Chelsea with her fiancé Billy Ray and his son Billy Ray Jr.
The play explores the dynamics of Ethel and Norman’s decades-long marriage.
It also tells the story of Chelsea’s relationship with her father, and how they have struggled to get along.
The director, Melanie Snyder, said people who have seen the movie will recognize the play, although the movie focused more on Henry Fonda’s Norman and Jane Fonda’s Chelsea characters.
“It’s definitely an ensemble cast,” Snyder said. “It’s only six characters” but they all have key parts and “are integral to the plot.”
“People look at it and they think it’s Norman’s play, but, in my opinion, it’s Ethel’s play.
“She takes care of everyone,” Snyder said. “She takes care of him.”
The show could have come out as a syrupy mess, with maudlin emotions taking control, but Snyder said she worked hard to avoid that.
“As actors, it’s very temping, because you get to show you have an emotional range, but that’s not very interesting,” calling it poignant but not sentimental.
She said this show could easily have been produced on the PCA Main Stage, but it’s being offered as an alternative to “A Christmas Carol.”
That did not deter her from revamping Stage Too to suit her vision. Gone is the black curtain that usually defines the backstage area, in favor of more depth for the set.
“Stage Too is so flexible, and I think we’ve got a really creative use of that space.”
The play is suitable for audiences of all ages.
“It’s a wonderful love story, and it’s a beautiful story to be told at the holidays, even though it takes place in the summer.”