Driftwood Players

"On Golden Pond" Sept. - Oct. 1999

By Ernest Thompson, Directed by John Carlberg

Standing From Left: Gary Morean: (Bill Ray) David Bennett: (Billy Ray Jr.) Doug Simons: (Charlie Martin) Christine Hensel: (Holding Book) Margaret Tingwall: (Chelsea Thayer Wayne) John Carlberg: (Director)
On Couch: Carol Stubb: (Ethel Thayer) Ernie Ingram: (Norman Thayer Jr.)

Pictures by
Jones Photo Co.

From The Daily World Friday, September 24, 1999

Winning cast, script propel 'On Golden Pond'

By Valerie Jester
Preview Correspondent

    Playwright Ernest Thompson spent his childhood summers at a lakeside cabin in Maine. Such days are spent lazing on the porch while the sounds of summer camp drift across the water.

    Spending time picking wild strawberries, rereading favorite books and playing Parcheesi in considered time well spent. These are the days "On Golden Pond," the play showing at the Driftwood Theatre.

    Set in the idyllic months of May through September, "On Golden Pond" tells the story of an aging couple, Ethel and Norman Thayer Jr., married for 40 years and still infatuated with one another. Norman is about to celebrate his 80th birthday and their daughter, Chelsea, whom they have not seen for years, is due to arrive with her new boyfriend.

    A winning cast, directed by John Carlberg and co-directed by Margaret Tingwall, performs this excellent play that is perhaps better known in its award-winning film version. This production marks the director's return to Driftwood after a three year absence. Carlberg, known for his selection of grittier plays, is also renowned for his first-rate stagecraft. That expertise is put to admirable use in this warm and moving play which is filled with laughter.

    Author Thompson (who won an Oscar for his film script) has written a play that deftly captures the nuances of each character.

    Norman Thayer Jr. is a  retired teacher. Turning 80 and feeling old, Norman is obsessed with death and dying. Actor Ernie Ingram does a masterful job portraying this intelligent, cantankerous man. When asked how it feels to turn 80, he replies, "Twice as bad as turning 40."

    In contrast, Norman's wife, Ethel, is exuberant and young at heart. She picks berries, rides her bike and talks to the local loon population in their own language. As this 69-going-on-39-year-old, actress Carol Stubb is superb. It is a delight to see Carol on the Driftwood stage again.

    Stubb and Ingram are a pleasure to watch in action together. At one point, Norman gets lost and confused while walking close to home. In an emotionally charged scene, he tells Ethel what happened. Both struggle with their fears about the perils of aging while trying at the same time to give comfort to a beloved spouse. Ingram and Stubb create a very affecting mood here. Their artistry and style throughout the play make the characters come alive.

    The supporting performances are a treat, too. In Tingwall's capable hands, Chelsea Thayer is a competent, successful woman reduced to childhood insecurities every time she revisits Golden Pond. She and her father have had a strained relationship, marked by her calling him by his first name. As Norman explains, he is her father but he never was her daddy.

    Chelsea returns to the lake for Norman's birthday party, bringing her new boyfriend and his son with her. Gary Morean shines as Billy Ray, the L.A. dentist who must face the unforgiving father-in-law he's heard so much about. With his Afro hairstyle and flare-leg pants, it is a role that would be easy to caricature but Morean proves that in reality this is an intelligent and insightful guy.

    Billy Ray's son is played by David Bennett, an eighth-grader who has already performed in numerous plays and won a Driftwood award. As the young and very cool Billy Ray Jr., Bennett dexterously portrays the sometimes smart aleck, sometimes sweet 13-year-old who teaches Norman to say "Bull@!#*!" You would expect this teen-ager and Norman to mix like oil and water. Instead, they get on famously and Billy proves to be the elixir of youth Norman so desperately needs.

    Doug Simons plays Charlie Martin, the mailman with a funny laugh who was Chelsea's summer boyfriend for years. Now in his forties, he still carries a torch for her. Simons provides the farcical bits in this comedy/drama and his lightheartedness is a nice foil to Norman's intensity.

From the South Beach Bulletin

Front Row Center With Sally...Sally DeGarmo

Driftwood Players' Season Opener ---"On Golden Pond"- Don't Miss It!

    If I had to choose only three words to tell you about the Driftwood Players' season opener, On Golden Pond, they would be...Don't Miss It!. Set in Maine in 1978, it is the story of an older couple who spends every summer at their lake cottage. This year, they are visited by their estranged daughter, Chelsea, her new boyfriend, Bill, and his son, Billy.

    When the younger adults leave to visit Europe for a month, the teen-ager is left with the 'old folks'. The time spent together creates a summer of insight, enlightenment and healing. Author Ernest Thompson, who used to spend a part of each summer visiting his grandparents at their summer house on a lovely Maine lake, won an Oscar for this story in 1981.

    John Carlberg, newly returned to the Harbor after a three-year absence to the East Coast, did an incredible job directing this play. Audiences and fellow theater members are pleased to have him back.

    The best part of  this production was getting to watch Carol Stubb and Ernie Ingram portray Ethel and Norman Thayer, Jr. On stage virtually the whole performance, they never seemed to be acting. It was if  they've already lived this part of their lives and they're just doing it over again.

    The supporting cast worked together to do an admirable job.

    It didn't take long for Billy Ray, Jr., played by David Bennett, to figure out that cantankerous old Norman was really a pretty nice guy with lots of great stories.

    Listening to Doug Simons' Maine accent as Charlie Martin was like hearing my logger friend, Stuart, speaking. Nice Job!

    Margaret Tingwall's Chelsea displayed her timidity and fear around her father as well as the loss she felt for the time she and her father wasted by not getting to know each other.

    Gary Morean, as Bill Ray, has to be seen to truly be appreciated. His look is so '70s, I had to wonder if his costume came from the back of his closet. (It did. He has a 1978 photo of him in it backstage.)

    This play is a definite must see... I kid you not. It's a deeply moving story with a lot of humor. You'll be glad you went.

    Future performances of "On Golden Pond" will be September 24th & 25th, October 1st, 2nd, 8th, & 9th with curtain at 8:15 p.m. A 2p.m. matinee will be held on Sunday, October 10th. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased in Aberdeen at City Drug and Top Food & Drug, in Hoquiam at Harbor Drug, in Montesano at Valu Drug and at Our Place in Ocean Shores. 

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