BWW Reviews: Experience the Nostalgic Majesty that is ON GOLDEN POND at the Barth Hotel Benefiting Senior Housing Options!
The seventh annual summer theater fundraiser for Senior Housing Options (SHO) presents Ernest Thompson's classic, ON GOLDEN POND playing at the Barth Hotel in downtown Denver now until August 30th. The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and his loving wife Ethel, who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their middle-aged, divorced daughter Chelsea -- who they haven't seen for years -- feels she must be there for Norman's 80th birthday. She and her new fiancé go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. He quickly becomes the "grandchild" Norman and Ethel have longed for, forming a bond with Norman that Chelsea never had, and stirring up old resentments upon her return.
Senior Housing Options is a non-profit organization providing quality affordable housing and services for 500 adults in Colorado. The production is SHO's major -- and only -- annual fundraiser and builds on the success of past runs such as "Steel Magnolias" (2013), and "Driving Miss Daisy" (2012).
"He is really a poop...isn't he?!?"
What I truly appreciated most about this exceptional production was the sheer simplicity of it making the main focus the amazing performances that we all had the pleasure of witnessing. Director Ashlee Temple and her production team really pondered all options within the confines of the Barth Hotel lobby and it made for a simple yet layered set that made this show inviting, cozy and complete. I loved that they had to turn down the set by taking all the sheets off the furniture this giving the play drive and energy right from the start. In addition I thought all of the photo frames and the fireplace were a nice touch. This talented cast truly showcased the true essence of this wonderful play. From the laughter to the painful reminders of the post, to the rebirth of youth, the magnitude of silence and the essence and importance of family - sometimes you have to experience all of these in the solitude of the great outdoors. This show gave me and the rest of audience an amazing sense of nostalgia and had me personally yearning for my days of being back on the lake in the middle of summer and enjoying the simplicity of life and the outdoors to the fullest! The fact that this production was for a very worthy cause made the entire experience that much more fulfilling!
Larry Hecht was exceptional as Norman Thayer and I enjoyed his grumpy old man with a heart of gold. He had such chemistry, rhythm, and comfortability with his lovely counterpart, Billie and you could tell that these two have been costars and friends for years and years. His transformation from gruff and elderly to caring and energetic with the insertion of a youth in his life was absolutely charming. I was also touched by his making light of his early onset Alzheimers that pertinent and important to this show and to the supporting cause. Billie McBride was a whirlwind of energy, tenderness and heart in her magnetic performance as Ethel Thayer. The quips between her and her husband were funny and uplifting and she gave this character such depth and relatability. Tara Falk was superb as their vulnerable daughter Chelsea. The one thing that I appreciated and noted most about this fine actresses performance was her physicality. I was enticed at her stiffen every time she entered the cabin that pronounced her pain and awkwardness towards family memories and the conflict that was sure to come. Although Drew Horwitz had a smaller role as Billie Ray Sr., it was still memorable as he exuded strength, courage and humor in his performance. Shem Brown as Billy Ray Jr. certainly had that California look down for the role and he did a great job of bringing youth, energy and sarcasm to the show. John Fortmiller had the audience in stitches as everyones' favorite mailman, Charlie. His Northeast accent was spot on and his goofish laugh brought a smile to the audiences faces everytime.
These fine actors transport the audience back to Golden Pond and the majesty of the Northeast for a very worthy cause and should not be missed! ON GOLDEN POND performs now until August 30th in the historic lobby of The Barth Hotel (1514 17th Street) in the heart of downtown Denver. The Barth is one of SHO's 14 residences and is home to 62 elderly and disabled adults. Performances are every Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.seniorhousingoptions.org or call 303-595-4464 x10.
Senior Housing Options, Inc. (SHO) is a charitable organization that serves low and moderate income elderly and adults with physical and mental disabilities. We currently own and/or manage both assisted living and affordable apartment living units for over 500 residents including properties in Cortez, Denver, Granby, Kremmling, Longmont, and Parachute. SHO generates its own revenues to the extent possible and manages resources well, but still there are unmet needs that require us to ask for help from individuals, businesses, and foundations to assure high care for all residents.
PHOTO CREDIT: Senior Housing Options
PICTURED ABOVE: Larry Hecht and Billie McBride as Norman and Ethel Thayer