BATH —While the prospect of loons welcoming us home after a year’s absence might not always sound quite so realistic during the middle of February, the timeless themes embodied in “On Golden Pond” are always with us. Norman Thayer Jr. and his wife, Ethel, along with their daughter Chelsea, her new boyfriend and his son, plus a lake-roving postman are a part of this classic play’s promise of loons, while granting the possibility of learning to love. Performance dates are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, 24-25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19, 26 at 2 p.m. in the Curtis Room of the Chocolate Church Arts Center,  804 Washington St., Bath.

Arriving home at their summer cottage, Norman and Ethel (played by Peter Havas of Harpswell and Shirley Bernier of Lisbon) have spent 48 consecutive years at Golden Pond. Now retired, and perhaps a little bit cranky, retired professor Norman spends time hunting the classifieds for a new career and catching up with Charlie (Geno Ring), the lake-roving postal worker who once dated his daughter, Chelsea.

Henry David Thoreau wrote in “Walden,” “For my part, I could easily do without the post office. I think that there are very few important communications made through it.” While this spirit of independence might suggest some of the motivations behind the Thayer’s annual trek to Golden Pond, this play is in some ways about the limits to individualism. As we watch Norman and Ethel reminisce about their time on the pond, it becomes clear with Chelsea’s arrival that there is more to be explored beneath the surface.

Chelsea, who is played by Tracey Michael Hall of Portland, is practically estranged from her father. In the 1981 film version of the play (both written by Ernest Thompson), this strained dynamic was immortalized by real-life father and daughter duo Henry and Jane Fonda. Rebelling against her own middle-class upbringing and Norman’s tyranny, Chelsea attempts to inject new life into the surroundings at Golden Pond. Bringing along her boyfriend Bill (Clay Hawks) and his teenage son Billy Jr. (Johnmarcus Willey), Chelsea hopes to heal some of her own wounds in exposing a new generation to the beautiful lakeside setting she experienced as a girl growing up. Ernest Thompson spent summers at Great Pond in Belgrade growing up, though the film version ended up depicting Squam Lake in New Hampshire.              

Ultimately, this is a show about different generations coming together. Despite Norman’s initial aloofness and apparent coldness toward his daughter, he finds a connection with young Billy Jr., whose own alienation from his father disappears in the wild beauty of Golden Pond. This is a play for all ages, though some of the themes may be suitable for older children. Directed by Thom Watson.

Tickets are $15 advance, $17 at the door and available by calling the box office 207-442-8455 or by purchasing online


Chelsea played by Tracey Michael Hall comforts her, mother, Ethel, played by Shirley Bernier while Peter Havas, who portrays Norman, watches.

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