Talk about “On Golden Pond” and it’s hard not to see an old Henry Fonda with his cloth hat tugged over his head, fishing rod in hand.
Stephen Shortridge knows he can’t erase that mental picture, so he’s not going to try. The production he’s directing opens at 8 tonight at the Lake City Playhouse.
“The play is very strong on its own,” he said. “It’s so well-written, we could sit in chairs and just read and people would enjoy it.”
The biggest difference between the movie and the play is the scenery. Remember the loons? No loons or pond or outdoor scenes in the play.
The set is the family cabin’s living room/dining area. Norman Thayer, an aged professor, and his wise wife, Ethel, return to this cabin on Golden Pond each summer.
For their 44th visit, their daughter Chelsea drops by and leaves her fiance’s son while she takes off for Europe. Norman and Ethel easily adopt Billy as the grandson they’ve wanted.
The story is about relationships: Norman and Ethel’s long-lasting love, Norman’s frustration with Chelsea and vice versa, Billy’s struggle to be a teenager around the curmudgeonly Norman.
“A lot of people can probably relate to the characters,” Shortridge said. “Everybody knows someone like these people.”
“On Golden Pond” is Shortridge’s debut as a director. But he has acted in television as a regular on “Welcome Back Kotter” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His face is well-known from commercials for Mennen Speedstick, Coke, Certs and Head and Shoulders.
Darrel Louks plays Norman. Louks last performed 40 years ago in college. Now retired in Coeur d’Alene, he auditioned with six other men for the part.
Maryanne Revels’ face should be familiar to Coeur d’Alene audiences. She plays Ethel and has graced local stages in a variety of parts for 20 years.
Nathan Reinhardt and Jonah Weston, both 13, will fill Billy’s role. Weston is a student at the Coeur d’Alene Theater for Youth. Reinhardt performed locally in “Oliver.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with story “On Golden Pond” opens tonight at 8 at Lake City Playhouse, 14th and Garden in Coeur d’Alene. It continues weekends through Feb. 5. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $8, $6 for students/seniors, $5 for children under 13, (208) 667-1323.