Arts and Entertainment

Local actors visit ‘On Golden Pond’

Susan Harris, left, and Bette Kimmel rehearse for “On Golden Pond.” - Courtesy photo
Susan Harris, left, and Bette Kimmel rehearse for “On Golden Pond.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

“On Golden Pond,” a play that won Oscars for Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn in its 1981 screen adaptation, will open on the Blue Heron stage this month with an all-star Island cast. The play is a co-production of Drama Dock and Vashon Allied Arts.

“On Golden Pond” is described by VAA organizers as a “sweet slice of Americana, steeped in universal truths about relationships and being human.”

The play’s story revolves around Ethel and Norman Thayer, an aging married couple, their adult daughter, her fiancé and his son.

The production will showcase the talents of Island actors including Bette Kimmel, Chaim Rosemarin, Susan Harris, Chris Ott, Kenese Parker, Kirk Beeler and Debby Jackson.

Kimmel plays the starring role of Ethel, the mother and wife portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in the film version.

As a young woman, Kimmel studied with famed acting teachers Stella Adler and Uta Hagen, and later acted in well-known Chicago venues including the Court Theatre. She appeared in more than 40 shows in Chicago and taught acting there for many years.

Since her 2007 move to Vashon, she has appeared in several Island productions.

Kimmel doesn’t seem intimidated by playing a role made famous by Hepburn.

“I saw the movie,” she said, “but fortunately, I’ve forgotten most of it, because it’s really death to try and copy what someone else does. But the character is so familiar to me. Ethel is so American, so middle-class, so typical of women from that period of time.”

Rosemarin, Kimmel’s co-star, plays Ethel’s husband, a curmudgeonly man who, during the course of the play, begins to repair his relationship with his adult daughter Chelsea.

Rosemarin described his character as “an ornery guy.”

“He is what I could call an ‘alte kocker,’ a Yiddish expresson for old fart,” said Rosemarin, “but it means more — he’s an old fart with a story to tell.”

Parker, the youngest member of the cast, plays Billy, a teenage boy whose unexpected arrival at Golden Pond serves as a catalyst for change for all the characters.

Harris and Ott, who appear in the play’s other leading roles, have both performed in a long list of Drama Dock productions.

Drama Dock president Phil Dunn, who is the director of the play, said he thought the play was a good fit for the Island.

“Vashon is a summer home for many people,” said Dunn,“a bit like being on Golden Pond.”

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