Conway Community Arts to present On Golden Pond

By Tammy Keith Published August 24, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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CONWAY — Some stories are so good that they deserve to be told again and again, and On Golden Pond is one of those, said Shua Miller, president of the Conway Community Arts Association Board of Directors.

“It’s a great show, and they’re going to do a very good job with it,” he said of the cast.

The play, directed by Trent Reese of Conway, will open at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at The Lantern Theatre, 1021 Van Ronkle St. in downtown Conway.

“It’s a story of family, and all the good and bad, and everything that goes along with that,” Reese said. “I would give it a PG rating.”

It focuses on an aging couple, Norman and Ethel Thayer, who spend their summers at their home on the lake, which they call Golden Pond. Their daughter, Chelsea, comes to visit with her fiance, Bill, and his teenage son, Billy Jr., whom they leave with the older couple while they take a trip. Norman is struggling with memory problems, and he and Chelsea deal with the tension in their relationship.

“I consider it a classic with the film being so popular,”

Reese said. “It’s been converted to a TV miniseries; it’s been converted to a musical. It’s a big deal.”

Reese said because the play is popular, more people auditioned than sometimes do.

“Honestly, because I’ve auditioned before and had five people, I was surprised when I turned around and had 12 or 15 people,” Reese said.

Cast members, all of Conway, are Len Schlientz portraying Norman; Nancy Allen appearing as Ethel; Chris Harris playing Charlie; Pammi Fabert as Chelsea; Henry Smiley portraying Bill; and Cade Smiley as Billy.

A unique part of the cast is that “father-son play father-son,” Reese said of the Smileys. Reese said he found the child actor first through Sonshine Academy’s theater classes in Conway, and the father was interested in performing, too.

Henry Smiley, 52, an English professor at Central Baptist College in Conway, said he took 11-year-old Cade to audition.

“I thought, ‘While I’m here, why don’t I read for it, also?’” he said.

Smiley said he did some plays at DeWitt High School and a little in college, but he hasn’t performed in a while.

“I really enjoy that we were cast as father and son,” he said.

“Rehearsals are going great,” Smiley said. “Trent is doing a terrific job. He’s a very nice guy, very easy to work with. He gives us a lot of ability to offer input and try different things. I couldn’t ask for a better first experience for Cade or a re-entry [to acting for me].”

Doors will open at 7 p.m. Sept. 19-20 and Sept. 26-27 for the 7:30 p.m. show. On Sept. 21 and 28, doors will open at 2, and the show will begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 each.

Reese also directed The Odd Couple, Circle Mirror Transformation and Next Fall.

Even though On Golden Pond is a popular play, Reese said, he wasn’t familiar with it.

“I had never been exposed to the show until I read it last year,” he said. “I’m excited to bring a new sense of feeling and something new to the show because a lot of people will be familiar with it.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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