June 11, 2010
Catch ‘On Golden Pond’ while you can
BY ROGER SMITH
MADISON — The summer theater season and the midges along the lake in northeast Ohio have both arrived at about the same time.
Though their appearances are annual calendar events, one might just be a bit suspect of Rabbit Run Theater and its role in these two summer happenings.
“On Golden Pond” is the opening production at Rabbit Run Theater. Set in one of the few remaining barn venues in Ohio, this show is lent an air of the rustic by its theatrical surroundings.
Though there are many subliminal messages to be discerned as we watch the principal characters on stage deal with aging, distant children and a memory that sometimes doesn’t function as it once did, the show is also a slice of life that we can all hope for. It is a fun script that is acted by talented, seasoned actors.
The passing of time on Golden Pond is measured by the kinds of flying creatures that try to invade the cottage via the sometimes attached, sometimes falling down screen door.
In the first act, Norman Thayer (Joe Petrolia) is obviously resigned to a slowing down of life because there is nothing new or exciting for him to do. His wife, Ethel Thayer, (Patty Page) is still vibrant and happy for the berry picking and the loons and the views of the pond. Their relationship is one that has spanned decades. Petrolia and Page do outstanding jobs in the portrayals of their characters, each one depicting personal idiosyncrasies that are endearing.
The audience is introduced to Charlie, the mailman (Larry Gasch) who not only brings letters and cards, but shares the local news as he makes his rounds. Through conversations among Norman, Ethel and Charlie, the audience discovers Charlie’s longtime crush on Chelsea, the daughter of the Thayers, who lives in California. She is coming for a visit. Gasch makes everyone believe his seriousness for his job and his feelings for Chelsea.
Enter Chelsea (Kitty O’Shea) who calls her mother “mother” but refers to her father as “Norman.” Those names reveal the relationship Chelsea has with each parent. Accompanying Chelsea on her stopover visit are Bill Ray (Tom Milligan) and Bill Ray, Jr. (Zachary Janouskovec).
Chelsea and Bill Ray are headed to Europe for a month, and they ask if his son, Bill Ray Jr,. could stay with the Thayers for the duration of the summer. O’Shea, Milligan, and Janouskovec all are convincing and delightfully charming in the character bodies they inhabit.
In a not unusual manner, the first act readies the audience for what is to follow; the groundwork is laid. The stage is now set for the second act of the play and the second act of life for Norman Thayer, as Billy Ray, Jr. offers purpose and rejuvenation. The cottage, Norman, Ethel, the moths and the loons all come alive as the show heads for the final curtain.
This entire cast is professional and well-rehearsed. Stephen Rhodes did an excellent job in casting as well as directing. The set is believable — even livable. All of the parts that go into making a good show are present in “On Golden Pond.” Sadly, this production is up and running tonight and Saturday night only; its run was scheduled for just two weeks. A call to the box office at 428-7092 will tell if there are tickets still available for this summer’s outstanding first production.