On Golden Pond On Stage at 2nd Space

May 1, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, Theatre

by Terrance Mc Arthur

The loons are back on Olive Avenue. You can hear them inside the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space Theatre in On Golden Pond through June 9.

You may have seen the 1981 movie starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, and Dabney Coleman, that won Oscars for Henry and Katharine. The playscript was adapted for the screen by the playwright, Ernest Thompson, but there are differences in the adaptation. At the 2nd Space, you get to see the original vision of the 1979 Broadway staging.

Norman (Patrick Allan Tromborg) and Ethel (Jayne Day) return to their lakeside cabin for a summer in Maine, and find out that their only child, Chelsea (Ananda Shaffer) is coming to visit, along with her fiancé, Bill (Joey Zapata) . . . and his 13-year-old son, Billy (Andrew Krikorian). The younger couple depart for Europe, leaving Billy in her parents’ care. Characters grow and change, drift apart and come together stronger for the parting. Always, there are the loons (and the mosquitos).

Norman (Patrick Allan Tromborg) and Ethel (Jayne Day) in GCP’s production of “On Golden Pond”

Tromborg is not Henry Fonda, which is just fine. He may not have Fonda’s weathered looks and fossilized wisdom, but he has a mischievous grin and a wicked eye that says he might say something outrageous . . .and sometimes it does come out of his mouth. You can believe him saying scandalous things to play mental games with Zapata, to see if the suitor deserves his little girl. You can also believe him having signs of Alzheimer’s, and revel in the touches of familiar love among long-lived couples in his moments with Day.

Day is not Katharine Hepburn, craggy and reserved. She’s a soft, loving Earth Mother with a look that says, “Yeah, I guess I’ll put up with him for another day.” Her timing matches well with Tromborg, and she shows great power in a confrontation with Shaffer.

Chelsea (Ananda Shaffer) in GCP’s production of “On Golden Pond”

Shaffer is not Jane Fonda. She’s younger, graceful, and fits smoothly into her GCP debut. Chelsea’s acerbic quality matches Norman’s, which is why they had trouble getting along, resulting in no contact for five years.

Zapata is not Dabney Coleman. In his first GCP production, he’s fit, physical, better-looking, and—although disconcerted at first—sees through Norman’s attempts to scare him off. Krikorian is a great kid, moving from rough and wanting to be tough to an avid reader seeking new literary worlds.

Bill (Joey Zapata) and Norman (Patrick Allan Tromborg) in GCP’s production of “On Golden Pond”

Geddert is a frequent flyer on GCP stages, but his role as Charlie, the local mailman, is a change from his usual confident characters. Charlie is a bit of a bumpkin, always hoping for Chelsea to notice him, with a laugh that needs to be heard.

Norman (Patrick Allan Tromborg) and Billy (Andrew Krikorian) in GCP’s production of “On Golden Pond”

Director Karan Johnson waves her metaphorical wand to make all the facets of the play gleam like a jewel.
David Pierce recreated a cabin that looks like the “Before” part of something out of the Magnolia Network’s Maine Cabin Masters: mounted fish over the fireplace, family pictures, paintings of the lake and the sea, mismatched furniture, and a broken screen door. Ginger Kay Lewis Reed’s costumes look like a New England vacation. The lighting, by Andrea Henrickson and Brandi Martin, illuminates, yet focuses at the little moments . . . and there is always the sound of loons.

It’s a play about family—how it works, how it doesn’t, how it heals.

The 2nd Space Theatre is at 928 E. Olive Ave, Fresno. For tickets and further information, contact gcplayers.com, or call (559) 266-9494.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.


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