ON GOLDEN POND Nominated for 4 Helen Hayes Awards
It was announced today that the upcoming Broadway production of On Golden Pond, starring the legendary James Earl Jones and Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams, has been nominated for 4 Helen Hayes Awards, the prestigious awards that pay tribute to excellence in professional theater in Washington, DC. The production premiered last Fall at The Kennedy Center.
On Golden Pond was eligible in four categories, and it scored nominations in all four: Outstanding Non-Resident Production; Outstanding Lead Actor James Earl Jones for his performance as Norman Thayer, Jr.; Outstanding Lead Actress Leslie Uggams as Ethel Thayer; and Outstanding Supporting Performer Craig Bockhorn as Charlie Martin (the mailman). Winners will be announced at a ceremony at Washington's Warner Theatre on Monday, May 9.
This new production of On Golden Pond, featuring a revised script by original playwright Ernest Thompson (who also won an Academy Award for adapting his own play into the screenplay for the 1981 hit film), premiered to glowing reviews. Directed by Leonard Foglia (Master Class), it will transfer to New York with the same cast and creative team. Previews begin Tuesday, March 22 with an official Opening Night set for Thursday, April 7 at The Cort Theatre (138 West 38th Street).
This production marks James Earl Jones' eagerly-awaited return to the Broadway stage for the first time since earning his second Tony Award for Fences in 1987. It is also the first major U.S. production to feature African-American performers playing the family (representing a majority of the characters in the play).
"We are all honored that The Helen Hayes Awards recognized On Golden Pond in every category that we were eligible for," said producer Jeffrey Finn. "Washington audiences and critics embraced James Earl Jones, Leslie Uggams and this production, and we're looking forward to our New York audiences. Ernest Thompson's wonderful new work on the script brings out all of the play's heart and humor. I'm especially grateful to The Kennedy Center for their support of On Golden Pond." Finn produced the premiere at The Kennedy Center and is joined by Arlene Scanlan and Stuart Thompson in New York.
Delivering performances that won critical acclaim, James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams co-star as the lovable curmudgeon Norman and his spirited wife, Ethel - a couple whose final summer at their lakeside cottage in Maine is interrupted by the arrival of their estranged daughter and her fiancé's young son. On Golden Pond is a heartwarming and hilarious celebration of the everyday struggles and ultimate triumphs of life, love and family.
Critics were unanimous in their praise for On Golden Pond and especially its stars, led by Peter Marks of The Washington Post who raved, "James Earl Jones ignites the stage like something doused in kerosene. You can't take your eyes off of him. He remains a force to reckon with. Leslie Uggams offers a winningly sunny turn. A gracious performance."
Douglas J. Keating in Philadelphia Inquirer enthusiastically urged, "Make the most of it and see On Golden Pond. It's an opportunity that should be taken. See one of America's great actors back on stage in a finely-tuned production with a strong cast. James Earl Jones' dominating stage presence and instincts show he has a perfectly-timed gift for comedy. Leslie Uggams is effective and winning. "
Howard Kissel of The New York Daily News proclaimed it "An evening of theater about more than this beautifully-directed play; James Earl Jones, making his return to the stage after many years, gives On Golden Pond an iconic quality."
Joining the critically-acclaimed pairing of Mr. Jones as Norman and Ms. Uggams as Ethel are Linda Powell (on Broadway in Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, the New York premieres of Jar the Floor and Omnium Gatherum, Off-Broadway's recent The Odyssey) as Chelsea, Peter Francis James (Obie Award for The Maids, on Broadway in Drowning Crow, Caeser in the world premiere of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean) as Bill, Craig Bockhorn (on Broadway in Prelude to a Kiss and The Lonesome West) as Charlie and Alexander Mitchell (Travis in the hit Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun) as Billy.
The production features set design by three-time Emmy Award winner Ray Klausen, costume design by 13-time Tony Award nominee Jane Greenwood, lighting design by Tony Award nominee Brian Nason and sound design and original music by Dan Moses Schreier.
This new production of On Golden Pond premiered last Fall at The Kennedy Center (September 28 - October 17), followed by an engagement at The DuPont Theatre in Wilmington (October 22-31). This path ironically followed the original 1979 production's pre-Broadway journey from The Kennedy Center to The DuPont (then The Playhouse) before opening on Broadway.
The World Premiere of On Golden Pond was presented as a limited run of 36 performances at New York's Hudson Guild Theatre, starring Tom Aldredge and Frances Sternhagen, opening September 13, 1978. The production played a pre-Broadway engagement at The Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater in January of 1979, followed by an engagement at The Playhouse in Wilmington, prior to opening on Broadway at The New Apollo Theatre on February 28, 1979 for 126 performances. A return New York engagement at The Century Theatre opened September 12, 1979 for an additional 424 performances.
The acclaimed 1981 film version starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman was nominated for nine 1982 Academy Awards, winning three: for the elder Fonda, Hepburn and author Ernest Thompson for the screenplay he adapted from his own play. For his screenplay, Mr. Thompson also won Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America awards.
The performance schedule for On Golden Pond will be Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8PM with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2PM and Sundays at 3PM. Beginning April 19, Tuesday evenings will be at 7PM. Previews begin Tuesday, March 22 with an official Opening Night set for Thursday, April 7.
To purchase tickets ($41.25 - $91.25), go online at www.telecharge.com, call (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250 or visit The Cort Theatre Box Office (138 West 48th Street).
James Earl Jones has a long and distinguished career on stage, bookended by his two Tony Award-winning performances in The Great White Hope (1968) and Fences (1987). Other stage work includes "MASTER HAROLD"...and the boys, The Iceman Cometh and Othello. His many films include The Great White Hope (Academy Award nomination), Dr. Strangelove and Field of Dreams, but he is probably best known as the voices of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films and Mufasa in Disney's animated classic The Lion King. He's won two Emmy Awards and recently earned his eighth nomination for his guest appearance on the series "Everwood." Mr. Jones' last Broadway appearance was in the 1987 production of Fences, a triumph for which he won his second Tony Award, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. He subsequently took the play to Los Angeles, where he won the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for his performance. He's the spokesman for Verizon and his recognizable voice is the voice of CNN.
Leslie Uggams won the Tony for Leading Actress in a Musical for Hallelujah, Baby! and received a second nomination for Leading Actress in a Play for her performance in August Wilson's King Hedley II, which also played The Kennedy Center prior to Broadway. She most recently appeared on Broadway as Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie and additional Broadway credits include Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (also on national tour), Jerry's Girls and Blues in the Night. She performs concerts with symphonies across the country and is fondly remembered by television audiences as Kizzy in the miniseries "Roots."