Theater Opening: ‘On Golden Pond’

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Diana Marbury (Ethel) and George Loizides (Norman) in rehearsal for “On Golden Pond,” opening January 10 in Quogue. –Tom Kochie Photo

“On Golden Pond” opens on January 10 at the Quogue Community Hall. The Hampton Theatre Company production will run through January 27.

This play, famously about an “old poop,” his loving wife, their estranged daughter and her boyfriend’s teenage son, is a golden oldie that shouldn’t be missed. Written by Ernest Thompson, the play focuses on the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are spending their 48th summer together at a summer cottage on a lake in Maine. Norman, now 80, is fighting back against heart palpitations and a failing memory, using mordant wit and a gruff exterior as armor to cover his fears. Although she is clear about what lies ahead, Ethel, 10 years his junior, offers her support by celebrating all the small things that continue to enrich their long life together.

Along with the lake’s longtime mailman, Charlie Martin, they are visited by their divorced, middle-age daughter—long disappointed in her relationship with her father—and her dentist boyfriend, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind in their care. As the summer wanes and family dynamics begin to shift, Norman and Ethel–played brilliantly in the famous film version by Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, with Fonda’s real-life daughter Jane as the film couple’s offspring–come to understand the power of love in facing down the relentless advance of time.

Here on the East End, the cast of “On Golden Pond” features four actors who have appeared in previous HTC productions and two newcomers to the Quogue stage. HTC veterans include: Diana Marbury in the role of Ethel Thayer; George Loizides as Norman; Jane Cortney (last seen in “Hay Fever”) as their daughter Chelsea; and Paul Bolger (last seen in the HTC revival of “Bedroom Farce”) as the mailman Charlie Martin. Making their debuts on the Quogue stage are Wally Marzano-Lesnevich as Chelsea’s boyfriend Bill Ray and Hampton Bays High School student Ian Hubbard as his son, Billy.

Hampton Theatre Company President Andrew Botsford directs. Set design is by Sean Marbury; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

Playwright Ernest Thompson wrote “On Golden Pond” when he was 28. He adapted the play for the 1981 hit film of the same title starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda, winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The most recent Broadway revival was in 2005, with an African American cast led by James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams. Tom Bosley and Michael Learned starred in a 2006-07 US national tour produced by Finn. Jack Klugman headlined a 2008 tour.

First produced Off Off Broadway in 1978, the play went on to a successful run on Broadway in 1979, and an even more successful revival the following season, running for a total of 400 performances. A New York Daily News review called the play “a work of rare simplicity and beauty,” noting that “in Thompson our theatre has found a fresh new voice.”

“On Golden Pond” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from January 10 to January 27, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, January 26, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.

The Hampton Theatre Company will again be offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Westhampton, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. Offered in association with the Quogue Club at the Hallock House, a special lunch and theater package is available for the Saturday matinee on January 26. To reserve tickets, visit, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

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