Hawkeye production: It’s not like the movie

Hawkeye Community Theatre will present “On Golden Pond,” a classic about living life richly even at the end of life.

The play follows Norman and Ethel Thayer one summer at their cabin on Golden Pond.

“They’re getting up there in years – he’s 80, she’s 70,” said director Dylan Drummond. “He’s starting to kind of lose his mind and have heart problems. He doesn’t have the best relationship with their daughter. She brings her soon-to-be stepson with her and her fiance, and it kind of awakens some things in Norman. It gives him a little more pep in his step.”

Jeff Bluml plays a gruff, cranky Norman, who doesn’t seem to find joy in any of the things he used to like.

“Norman continually talks about death,” Bluml said. “That’s his hobby now, preparing for death, because there’s no excitement in his life anymore. Until Billy shows up.”

Guests may remember “On Golden Pond” as Henry Fonda’s last movie. The film also starred Katherine Hepburn, but Drummond said the play is different from the movie.

“It’s neat how they interpret the characters,” said Drummond. “Especially the two leads. I told them I didn’t want them imitating Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.

“There are some parts that are supposed to be dramatic, but they end up being funny because of the way Jeff is playing it. He’s doing a great job.”

The movie is also more embellished, Bluml said, since they go out on the lake.

Bluml said, “The interesting thing is when you look at the footnotes in the script, Ernest Thompson, the guy who wrote it, has never really stopped writing the play.”

It was first written 40 years ago, Bluml said, but ever since then Thompson has been reworking it, adding things in and taking them out.

Bluml likes the version they have now.

“The original script I looked at was a little longer, and this one cut out some of the unnecessary stuff and built a better connection between the characters,” he said.

Drummond has acted in numerous Hawkeye plays, but this is his directing debut. He was asked to direct at a board meeting.

“I’ve always wanted to act in this play, and I figured if I’m going to direct a play why not this one?” Drummond said. “I watched the movie all the time as a kid.”

All but three of his cast members are experienced Hawkeye veterans. One of the new actors is Joyce Bickford, who plays the Operator.

In fact, this is her first play since high school, said Bickford, but she’s been making the most of her two pages of lines.

“They needed an operator, and I said I can do it. At first I was going to talk off the set, you were just going to hear my voice. And I said, ‘Wait a minute. I can jazz it up.'”

Bluml said his role has a very personal connection for him.

“(Norman is) turning 80, and he’s having some memory issues, and my parents are right in that same area,” he said. “I’ve been taking care of them, or helping them do stuff. So I’m dealing with a lot of the same issues off the stage. … There’s things that have been tough to get through.

“This play has been an eye-opener.”