On The ‘Pond’

David Brown and Sarah Carda play Norman and Ethel Thayer in the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company production of “On Golden Pond.”

A return to Golden Pond is coming up for characters and director alike as the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company (LCTC) presents “On Golden Pond” next month.

Tara Leonard, the show’s director, told the Press & Dakotan that the play is a good choice for the local audience.

“When the board decided to go back to classics, I recommended this play because it was a great play,” Leonard said. “The play is just a great, heart-warming, funny, good play that everybody would enjoy.”

The show is set to run Feb. 6-8 (7:30 p.m. shows), Feb. 9 (2 p.m. show) and Feb. 14-15 (7:30 p.m. shows) and Feb. 16 (2 p.m. show).

The story follows an aging couple — Norman and Ethel Thayer — as they make a trip to their summer house on a lake called Golden Pond. Their daughter Chelsea visits them for the first time in 10 years to work on her estranged relationship with her father.

“On Golden Pond” started out as a play by Ernest Thompson in 1979 and was adapted into a movie starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in 1981.

It’s a play that Leonard has a bit of history with.

“I actually directed this play 23 years ago in Mitchell,” she said.

She added that she’s excited to be putting on the play for a new audience more than two decades later.

“I forgot how wonderful the play is,” she said. “It’s so funny and you just really love every single character in it. To be able to share it again, I can’t believe how many of the lines I remember from 23 years ago — they just kind of come back. What’s neat is seeing the different casts that I had from way back when to now.”

Among the cast is David Brown, who plays Norman.

“I think Norman Thayer is a lot like myself,” Brown said. “He is more of a realistic person, whereas his wife Ethel is more trying to look at the positive things in life. I think Norman is a little afraid to show his emotions because he has feelings towards his daughter, but he doesn’t really want to let people know he really actually loves her. Norman can be a very complicated character.”

Brown said he’s been in a few different theatrical shows before — mostly Christmas shows that featured a larger cast.

“The reason I like the theatre so much is you show up for auditions and you don’t know anybody, or if you do, probably not very much,” he said. “Through the course of preparing for a show, you grow really close as a cast. By the time the show’s over, you’ve become really good friends.”

Also appearing is Sarah Carda, who plays Ethel.

“I love this character,” Carda said. “She’s really the one who sort of keeps the family together and tries to smooth out all the wrinkles. She wants everybody just to get along and everybody to have good relationships.”

Carda said this marks one of the first times she’s been a main character in a production.

“I have mainly helped out with my kids who have been on stage for all different things,” she said. “I was in one — I had a minor part in a Christmas show about six years ago — so this is the first time with Lewis & Clark that I’ve had any major role.”

Leonard said the cast has come a long way in a short period of time.

“We had just barely over a month to get this ready to go,” she said. “The time has been quick, but they’re very talented people.”

She added that having a smaller cast — six total for the show — has advantages.

“We fight with the weather a bit, but being a small cast, we can really accommodate everybody’s schedule,” she said. “Some people can come in the middle of the day, some can come at night and then we work to try and get everybody together. It works really well.”

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