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Review: On Golden Pond


By John Baggett

As the 70th season for Tyler Civic Theatre continues, the line up this year has let me see a lot of shows that I probably should have seen a long time ago. In this case, it allowed me to visit both a cinematic classic and the play that inspired it thanks to the latest production, “On Golden Pond.”

“On Golden Pond” is the story of the Thayer’s, Norman (Dan Trent) and Ethel (Lisa Ormandy), an aging  couple who have been married over 40 years. The pair returns to Golden Pond in Maine every summer as they have for most of their married life. With Norman’s 80th birthday approaching, his preoccupation with his mortality is in full force, especially since he has been having heart palpitations and his memory is starting to fade. Still, he is able to fill his days harassing mailman Charlie (Austin Sandy) and driving Ethel crazy.

When their daughter, Chelsea (Kristina Suberbielle), writes that she is coming for a visit with her new boyfriend, Bill (Heath Huffstetter), Ethel hopes that for once they can all get along as a family. With Chelsea’s return, it brings back bad memories, but the beginning of new ones with Bill’s son, Billy (Jesse Stamper II). Ethel asks Norman to let Billy stay with them while Chelsea and Bill go to Europe, which is the best thing, not just for the boy, but for Ethel and Norman as well.

“On Golden Pond” was written by Ernest Thompson, who would later adapt his play into the script for the 1981 Oscar-winning film. (I actually watched the movie just days before opening night for the first time ever, and I’m really glad I did.) The Civic Theatre production is directed by DeAnna Hargrove, a veteran director and actress, whose previous show was the debut performance of Mike Hargrove’s “The Touch.” Hargrove assembled a wonderful cast that took this classic material and made it their own.

Trent and Ormandy have the task of taking characters once portrayed by the legendary Peter Fonda and Katherine Hepburn, and both of them exceeded expectations. Trent, who was previously in “Screwtape” and “The Odd Couple,” brings warmth and humor to a role I felt Fonda was a little cold in, but still manages to be the loveable curmudgeon as well. Ormandy is easily the biggest surprise in the show as this is her acting debut. For someone that hasn’t been on stage before, she was flawless, taking on a heavy role with the grace and ease of a stage veteran. I hope that she continues to appear in shows because she is truly gifted.

With our supporting cast, we have a fantastic group of actors. Hufstetter, who has been in many shows such as “Christmas Belles” and “Charlotte’s Web,” gives another great performance. Sandy, who was last seen in “Dial M For Murder” is fun to watch as Charlie, and you can’t help but smile along with him while he is on stage. In her Civic Theatre debut, Suberbielle is also great, returning to the stage for the first time in two decades, and I hope she continues to act. Finally, as Billy, Stamper is a delight to watch, with a natural talent that makes me hope he keeps it up. I also want to give a shout out to Joclyn Ewers, who is the voice of the operator and an understudy for Ormandy, and Paul LeBerton, who was an understudy for Stamper.

“On Golden Pond” is a delightful show, one that is funny and emotional. Every performance is great and it’s a show that, whether you’ve seen the movie a thousand times or not at all, you owe it to yourself to check out.  Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Drive.  For more information or to purchase tickets call 903-592-0561 or go to

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Cowan Center: “Escape Margaritaville” Opens 2020-2021 Season

For more events, check out ‘s entire

Wondering what is showing at the Cowan Center? 

There’s nothing like opening a season with a fun show and a member party for the ages! No better theme than Jimmy Buffett music, an escape to Margaritaville, and a pre-party for Cowan Center Circle members!

“I think we all deserve some social time with our friends and like-minded Broadway fans,” said Susan Thomae-Morphew, UT Tyler Cowan Center Executive Director.

“This is our 24th Season! We can’t believe it either! We promise to have lots of great talent again and will be gearing up as we celebrate a quarter of a century soon. Over the next 2 years we will be developing programming for new target audiences and upgrading our premiere venue known across the state and beyond as a magnet for amazing artists and shows.”

“The Cowan Center Circle is the lifeblood of the Cowan Center’s service and success. Your membership support is needed now more than ever before. We have big plans and want to make you proud of this wonderful asset we share with so many. It is with you that we reach high and provide the best for our community, state and region.”

“We ask you to renew your membership, consider an upgrade, and invite friends to jump into the Cowan Center family. We want to fill the house every show and share the magic of live performance. Help us reach for the stars and come see some on stage, too!”

“We are grateful for each and every one of you. I can’t wait to see you all again!”

All events are performed in the Cowan Center located on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Boulevard – FAC 1120 in Tyler, TX (Google Map).

QUESTIONS? Call (903)566.7424. More information and TICKETS can also be found at Watch for announcements on Cowan’s Facebook and Twitter pages too.


Upcoming acts are:


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From Tyler Civic Theatre: Announcements & The Future

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 Announcement Regarding  The Mark Twain Show

We are saddened to announce the cancellation of The Mark Twain Show at TCTC. But, this is the best and safest decision for our actors and our patrons due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and based on the latest recommendations by the CDC. We are happy to provide those who have already purchased tickets a refund. Please contact our box office during business hours.

Announcement Regarding  Just So Stories 

Just So Stories at TCTC has been postponed indefinitely. We hope there will be potential during the month of May to put this show back on stage, but we are unable to make any promises about upcoming shows at this time. Please understand this is the best and safest decision for our actors and our patrons based on the latest recommendations by the CDC. Please follow our Facebook page for updates regarding Just So Stories.

Announcement Regarding  Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tyler Civic Theater Center has modified plans for Breakfast at Tiffany’s auditions by Facebook Messenger video chat. Details follow, but we are proceeding with cautious optimism for our final season production.

Meanwhile, Just So Stories is waiting in the wings with set pieces in place and costumes hanging in the dressing rooms. Obviously, no one knows what the next days or weeks will look like, but we will be prepared to go when it is safe to do so – that’s what theater people do!

If you plan to audition and are Facebook friends with DeAnna Hargrove, simply send her a FB private message to be scheduled anytime between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday. If you are not yet friends, now’s the time to make that request…and don’t forget to send a message for your appointment time. Sides will be available Monday afternoon for cold readings, but prepared monologues are also welcomed. The following Monday and Tuesday we plan to continue the audition process for optimum casting.

Please understand that there is no guarantee that circumstances will allow this production to take place in May as scheduled, but we will be prepared to rehearse beginning in April if the situation improves dramatically (pun intended). Worst case scenario, we have fun with auditions and stay focused on returning to normalcy…which is what we all hope and pray to see in the very near future!

As always, TCTC thrives because of your support and participation. We look forward to some amazing auditions, so blow up DeAnna’s Facebook Messenger with those requests for your appointment!


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