On Golden Pond Offers Treat of Veteran Actors Onstage

Bain Boehlke and Wendy Lehr.

Bain Boehlke and Wendy Lehr.

At this point, most people are as familiar with parodies of Katherine Hepburn's performance in On Golden Pond as they are of the film -- let alone Ernest Thompson's original play.

The Jungle's Bain Boehlke has brought Thompson's ode to aging and the persistence of love out for the holiday season. As an added gift, Boehlke is joined by Wendy Lehr to play the two leads, Norman and Ethel Thayer.

See also: Longtime Friends Bain Boehlke and Wendy Lehr Slip Into On Golden Pond Roles


On Golden Pond is a meditative piece, loaded with lifetimes of memories about summers spent on a Maine lake. Nothing earth-shattering happens, except that an old man is able to reconnect with his daughter, and an old woman is able to reconfirm that she married the love of her life.

Over the course of a summer, the Thayers go through the familiar routine that has been built over decades of their marriage. Norman is a spry nearly 80-year-old worried about his failing heart and memory. His usual routine is interrupted by the arrival of his daughter Chelsea, new beau Bill, and his 12-year-old son Billy.

Even that description isn't entirely apt. Those are the incidents of Thompson's play, but what it is about is something harder to define. This is a play about well-set routines and traditions that don't trap the main characters, but offer them comfort in their late years.

This gives Boehlke and Lehr intriguing places to play their characters, relying not just on their own talents and well-developed skills, but the 50 years of friendship that sits just beneath the surface of their performances.

Maintaining the play's easygoing charm amid the occasional moments of drama is a tough balancing act, and at times the action in On Golden Pond threatens to disappear into Boehlke's well-designed set. The two masters in charge, aided by a solid supporting company, keep the ship moving forward, even if the show is more of a journey on a calm lake than a fight for survival in a storm.


On Golden Pond Through December 21 The Jungle Theater 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis $25-$43 For tickets and more information, call 612-822-7063 or visit online.