Howmet Playhouse summer season closing with ‘On Golden Pond”

WHITEHALL — The 2016 Summer Theatre Festival at Howmet Playhouse here will close with a famous American play that particularly parallels and resonates within the White Lake community.

“On Golden Pond,” playwright Ernest Thompson’s 1979 play about an aging couple summering on an inland lake in the twilight of their years will run at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18-20.

Thompson’s piece centers on Norman and Ethel Thayer who spend each summer at their cottage on the shore of Golden Pond. The couple have a strained relationship with their adult, divorced daughter, Chelsea, who brings her dentist fiancé and his son to the cottage. The boy, Billy, is left with the elder Thayers and forms a bond with them, especially Norman.

Tom Aldredge and Frances Sternhagen starred in the original Broadway production. In 1981 “On Golden Pond” was adapted into movie that starred Henry Fonda as Norman, Katherine Hepburn as Ethel and Fonda’s daughter, Jane, as Chelsea. It was the final film performance by both Henry Fonda and Hepburn, and both won Academy Awards for their performances. Jane Fonda was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Starring in the playhouse production directed by Debra Freeberg, a professor of theatre and communications at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, will be Hayden M. Smith Jr. as Norman and Diane Van Wesep as Ethel.

Van Wesep is a playhouse veteran who previous Howmet credits include “Souvenir, a Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins” (which is being adapted into a movie starring Meryl Streep), “Boeing-Boeing,” “Blithe Spirit,” “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Anybody for Murder.”

Smith is making his playhouse debut and reprising a role he played in 2013 for the Central Park Players community theatre company in Grand Haven.

Also in the cast are Mandalyn Keeler as Chelsea, David Riegler as Bill, Kyle Goltz as Billy, and Bryan Engler as Charlie.

Individual tickets for “On Golden Pond” are $21 for adults and $17 for students.

For reservations, visit the playhouse’s web site,; or the box office of the playhouse, 304 S. Mears. The box office is open weekdays from 1-5 p.m., and one hour before performances.

Categories: Theatre

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