Relationships Young and Old Take Shape in Heartwarming ON GOLDEN POND

The Human Race revisits the past and forges new bonds across generations with Ernest Thompson’s classic, April 6 – 23, 2017 at the Loft Theatre

HRTC_On Golden Pond promo1

Dale Hodges as Ethel Thayer & Joneal Joplin as Norman Thayer.

(Dayton, OH) —This April, The Human Race Theatre Company (HRTC) makes a warm and welcome return to On Golden Pond. For forty-eight years, Norman Thayer and his energetic wife, Ethel, have been spending the summers at their lakeside home on Golden Pond, fishing and watching for loons. This year, their divorced daughter, Chelsea, her new fiancé and his teenage son make an unexpected visit. When Norman develops an unlikely friendship with the boy, it reinvigorates the grumpy retired professor and highlights the rocky relationship between this father and his now middle-aged daughter. As the summer days grow short, there is still time for their family to heal, and to rediscover the joys in everyday life. The preview performance of On Golden Pond is Thursday, April 6. Opening night is Friday, April 7.

The Human Race previously produced On Golden Pond in 1999 for the Victoria Theatre Association in their historic 1,100 namesake theatre. That production was so well received, HRTC President & Artistic Director Kevin Moore felt a return—this time at the company’s home in the intimate Loft Theatre—was a must when selecting shows for the 2016-2017 season. Director and Resident Artist Richard E. Hess agrees. “On Golden Pond is a nostalgic gem,” he explains, “a heart-warming masterpiece full of loving laughter and hopeful tears.” Hess finds the play to be a much-needed respite from the heightened sense of anxiety and hostility present in society today. “It allows me to wrestle with what it means to be good and decent, with family, with friends, and with those we love.” Those are considerations he hopes audiences will take with them. Playwright Thompson’s scenic setting provides the finishing touch for such reflection. “Maine is a state of mind, a place to slow down, to unwind, to reconnect with the essentials,” says Hess. “Time slows, allowing differences to recede as essentials are revealed. It’s lovely On Golden Pond.”


The cast of six includes Human Race veterans as well as faces who are new to local audiences.

Joneal Joplin (HRTC’s Proof and All My Sons, A Christmas Carol at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Man of La Mancha at Insight Theatre Company) is the cantankerous “Norman Thayer.” Dale Hodges (HRTC’s Romeo and Juliet, Steel Magnolias and After Play, A Christmas Carol at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park) plays his lively, devoted wife, “Ethel.” Resident Artist Jennifer Joplin (26 Pebbles, The Glass Menagerie, Other Desert Cities, God of Carnage at The Human Race) makes her fourth onstage appearance with her real-life father, Joneal, as the Thayers’ estranged daughter, “Chelsea.” Cincinnati native Ken Early (Around the World in 80 Days at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) makes his Human Race debut as Chelsea’s fiancé, “Bill Ray.” Stivers School for the Arts student Kaleb Barlow takes on his first professional appearance as Bill’s teenage son, “Billy Ray.” On Golden Pond marks a long-awaited return to The Human Race for Charlie Clark (The Human Race’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Sisters Rosensweig and Patient A) as Chelsea’s old flame, “Charlie Martin.”

This is the second time Richard E. Hess has directed the Joplins, once again as father and daughter. He describes the experience fondly. “You know how you feel when someone gives you a very, very special present, a once in a lifetime present, a present so rare that you can’t believe you have it? And you think ‘that’s it, I’m set forever.’ That’s how I felt when I directed Jen and Joneal in The Human Race’s Proof in 2003. And now, 14 years later, to be given such a gift a second time? It’s inconceivably delicious.”

On Golden Pond is the seventeenth Human Race production for scenic designer and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music professor Mark Halpin. With over 40 years of professional experience, costume designer Kathie Brookfield returns for her second Human Race production with director Hess. Resident Artists John Rensel (lighting designer) and Jay Brunner(sound designer) round out the design team. Lexi Muller is the production stage manager.

Biographies on the cast and creative team can be found on The Human Race Theatre Company’s website.

The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of On Golden Pond is sponsored by the DP&L Foundation, Emerson Climate Technologies, Two Friends, The Richard A. and Mary T. Whitney Fund for the Arts, Susan S. Kettering and Patti Giering.


Tickets for the preview performance of On Golden Pond on April 6 start at $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and $17.50 for students. For all performances April 7 – 23, single ticket prices start at $40 for adults, $37 for seniors and $20 for students. Prices vary depending on the day of the week and seating location. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. The Human Race is offering a pair of discount ticket opportunities during the run of the show. A limited number of $12 and $25 side-area seats are available in advance for all performances. The Sunday, April 9 7:00 p.m. performance is “Sawbuck Sunday,” when any available seat can be purchased in person for just $10 at the Loft Theatre box office two hours prior to the show. Discounts are subject to availability and some restrictions apply.

All performances are at the Metropolitan Art Center’s Loft Theatre, located at 126 North Main Street in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Show times for On Golden Pond are 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Performances on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday matinees.

Tickets and performance information for On Golden Pond are available at or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office.

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Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, The Human Race Theatre Company was founded in 1986 and moved into the Metropolitan Arts Center in 1991, taking up residence at the 212-seat Loft Theatre. In addition to the Eichelberger Loft Season, The Human Race produces new works development and special event programming. Under the direction of President and Artistic Director Kevin Moore, the company also maintains education and outreach programs for children, teens, and adults, as well as artist residencies in area schools, an In-School Tour, and a summer youth program. Human Race organizational support is provided by Culture Works, the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, the Shubert Foundation, the Erma R. Catterton Trust Fund, the Jesse & Caryl Philips Foundation, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, which helped fund this organization with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The 2016-2017 Sustainability Sponsors are the ELM Foundation, Anne F. Johnson, Steve and Lou Mason, and Morris Home Furnishings. The 2016-2017 Loft season sponsor is the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of the Dayton Foundation, with additional support from Premier Health.


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