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A 'Golden' performance

August 05, 2011|By Cassandra M. Bellantoni
  • Jonathan Stewart, Monette Magrath, Nicholas Podany, Hal Linden and Christina Pickles star in the Colony Theatre Company's production of "ON GOLDEN POND," written by Ernest Thompson and directed by Cameron Watson and now playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. (Photo by Michael Lamont)
Jonathan Stewart, Monette Magrath, Nicholas Podany,…

Every man should be so lucky to have a cheerful, energetic wife to support him when his mind and body begin to fail. “On Golden Pond” is a placid story that points out the value of strong, committed marriage with a deep undercurrent about the value of life, loved ones and mending fences before it’s too late, as the sunset years approach.

The story, written by Ernest Thompson, is set in 1979 as an elderly couple, the humorously cantankerous Norman Thayer (Hal Linden) and his vivacious wife, Ethel (Christina Pickles), have returned to Golden Pond for what might be one of their last summers together on the lake.

Ethel is trying unsuccessfully to lift Norman out of his growing depression by pointing out all the small, beautiful things he is taking for granted. As Norman’s 80th birthday approaches, the couple are joined by their middle-aged resentful daughter Chelsea (Monette Magrath), who has a chip on her shoulder due to her distant relationship with her father, and she reverts to an angry child as soon as she crosses the threshold.

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Ethel is happily surprised Chelsea has finally come for a visit after many years of avoidance, but the reason is evident when she shows up with her neurotic boyfriend (Jonathan Stewart) and his son (Nicholas Podany), whom she wants to drop off for the summer with her parents so she can enjoy a romantic trip to Europe.

There is plenty of comic relief with great dialogue, on-target direction from Cameron Watson and pitch-perfect performances from the entire cast. Chelsea’s ex-boyfriend, mailman Charlie Martin (Jerry Kernion), was enjoyable with his entertaining accent and a remarkable laugh. Thankfully, just as it began to wear thin, the laugh was toned down.

Linden and Pickles have razor-sharp comedic timing and seasoned acting chops that made the somewhat predictable story fun to watch, as it unfolded like the dust covers on the furniture in the cabin. Pickles showed her range when her character’s cheerful demeanor turned ferocious in a scene with Chelsea, which displayed her deep loyalty to her husband, even while empathizing with her daughter.

The lovable Linden was appropriately tired, grouchy and sarcastic before his unexpected young protégé awakened his zest for fishing and teaching, which was palpable. Later the two bonded and the boy became the son he always wanted, further infuriating his daughter upon her return as a successfully engaged woman.

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