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On Golden Pond

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Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond, a typical boulevard comedy-drama, is equally cutesy about old age and death, family dissension, and the generation gap, turning everything it touches into fool’s gold. This was so in 1979, when Frances Sternhagen and Tom Aldredge expertly created it, and again when Kate Hepburn and two Fondas, Henry and Jane, jerked its tears and facile laughs in the movie version. But in its current revival, as directed by Leonard Foglia, it is given a salutary dryness and acted astutely by all. James Earl Jones makes Norman Thayer, the frail and moribund 80-year-old, into a wonderfully tough and cynical, golden-crusty old bird, and, as his much younger, solicitous wife, huggable Leslie Uggams is delightfully no-nonsense-ironic. Linda Powell is fine as their difficult daughter, and the rest are just as irreproachable. The play cannot be fully salvaged, but an evening spent with such a cast is no waste of time or money.

By Ernest Thompson
at the Cort Theatre


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