CHAMBERSBURG - Ask any family and if they’re honest, they’ll admit that relationships are complicated. Shakespeare was on to something when he declared, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Ernest Thompson’s "On Golden Pond" explores love coupled with family dynamics, and the results don’t always lead to smooth sailing.
The Chambersburg Community Theatre production of "On Golden Pond" will unfold on the stage of the Capitol Theatre for weekend performances May 13-15 and 20-22, telling the story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are visiting their summer home on Golden Pond for the 48th year. The couple are joined by their middle-aged, divorced daughter, her fiancé and his teenage son who is left behind with the aging couple as the daughter and her boyfriend take off on a vacation to Europe.
The new “grandchild” is embraced by Ethel and nurtured by Norman. As a result, the generation gap narrows and they all learn lessons from each other. The relationship between father and daughter, however, is somewhat less than stellar.
Director Matthew Henning said, “It’s something a lot of families can relate to - a tough relationship between father and daughter and the story line of Ethel and Norman being older, struggling with his growing dementia; that kind of fear can resonate with a lot of different people.”
Richard Shoap, who plays Norman, said that the animosity portrayed between father and daughter masks the longing that they each have, which adds a hopeful note to the production. Shoap, who has been acting, directing and teaching theater for decades, said he is looking forward to the performance where he joins his real-life daughter Lindsey, who plays Chelsea Thayer “She and I have acted in plays together before, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to act opposite each other.”
Shoap said he’s very proud of his daughter. “She’s a good actress and a great person. I watched her grow up in the theater. She started at about the age of 5 and later studied theater at Vassar, moved to New York, spent a few years there and now she is back home practicing law.”
Lindsey, who still makes time for theater despite her busy law schedule, said that working alongside her father has been a rewarding experience. “I get an overwhelming sense of family as we explore the characters and the underlying tone of the production. It is a journey many families share. It is never perfect, but it is what we have.”
Joining Richard and Lindsey Shoap are cast members Joan Crooks as Ethel, Rich Knight as Chelsea’s fiancé Bill Ray, Evan Snyder as Bill’s son Billy, and Thomas Trgovac as Charlie Martin, the mailman.
The production crew, headed by Henning, includes Cyd Tokar as production coordinator, Jessica Doubell as stage manager, Stephanie Allee as props mistress, Alex McCurn as lighting technician and Chris Cook as sound technician. Set design and building is done by Chris Cook, Cyd Tokar, Pat McNamee, Dawn Snyder and cast members.
Richard Shoap said he considers "On Golden Pond" a meditation on mortality and the thoughts that come to mind when we approach the end of life and our relationships with each other, but he is careful to point out that there is a healthy dose of humor in the play as well. “Some of the characters really are characters and Norman, in particular, likes to play with people’s heads,” he said with a chuckle.
As for his role as Norman, Richard said it is always fun to put his own spin on characters and that is just one of the joys he gets from having participated in theater all these years. “To take a person from the page and get inside of them, bring what I have to it and gain what I get from the role, and then have the chance to show that to people—that’s what I enjoy. There’s energy on the stage and when it comes back from the audience, the flow is magical.”
When you go:
"On Golden Pond"
May 13-15 and 20-22, 2016
Capitol Theatre Center
159 S. Main Street, Chambersburg
Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
$18 adults, $13 students, $8 children 3-12
Tickets can be purchased online at cctonline.org, or by calling the Capitol Theatre Box Office at 717-263-0202, ext. 0. The show is sponsored by F&M Trust.