by Rita Charleston
First it was a play by Ernest Thompson that opened in 1979. Two years later, “On Golden Pond” was adapted to the screen. And now, the play that focuses on Ethel and Norman Thayer and their daughter, Chelsea, is the season opener at Stagecrafters, 8130 Germantown Ave.
Directed by Mariangela Saavedra, the play, which continues through Sept. 30, explores the often turbulent relationship Chelsea shared with her father growing up, and the difficulties faced by a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage.
In the film Chelsea is played by Jane Fonda, who hand-picked the work and her own father, Henry Fonda, to play Norman. Subsequently, he won an Oscar for his performance. (In the movie, Katharine Hepburn portrayed Ethel, the mother. )
“Jane even worked with the playwright to turn the play into a movie, seeing the part of Chelsea as her own. It was an interesting concept to realize that Jane and Henry had never been in a film together before, although Jane, like Chelsea, often butted heads with her own father,” said Anna Horsey, who takes the role of Chelsea in the Stagecrafters production. “I haven’t seen the movie for many years, and I purposely avoided seeing it again because I wanted to bring myself to the role and not Jane Fonda.”
The first time Horsey, who requested that her age not be mentioned, brought herself to a role was when she played the lead in “The Villain and the Toy Shop.” That was back in her hometown of Maplewood, N.J., and she was just five years old. “I think I probably got the part because I was the loudest,” she laughed, “and from that point on I was in all kinds of plays throughout my school years. In fact, I spent a lot of my life touring in plays all over the country.”
Some of her stage credits include roles in “Raggedy Ann and Andy” with the Virginia Repertory Theatre, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Godspell” at Winthrop Theatre in Massachusetts and more. She’s also performed in various broadcast media such as playing a bridesmaid in “Working Girl,” a film produced by Twentieth Century Fox, a featured role in Pizzeria Uno commercials, a Traffic Pulse On-Road Traffic Reporter with NBC10, and others.
“Then, about 10 years ago I decided to go back to school to learn about wine. I didn’t want to give up acting altogether but decided to put it on the back burner and learn something new,” Horsey explained. But when her parents moved to Pottstown from northern New York state, her mother helped convince her to go back to school to earn a degree — just in case. Horsey listened, agreed and enrolled in Temple University, eventually earning a B.A. in Communications and Theater.
She admitted that it was good to have that degree under her belt, although eventually she went back to wine sales — until recently, when she was laid off. “And although I’m looking around for another job in sales, I must say it feels good to be in a play again. It’s been six years, so it almost feels like coming home again.”
Once she moved to Pennsylvania, she says she’s lived in lots of places in Philly. Today she lives in Mt. Airy near Carpenter’s Woods. “It’s so beautiful and quiet here, I just couldn’t resist it.”
So for now, as Horsey continues to look for a full-time job with benefits, she admitted she would take another acting job “if I found just the role that fits me. As you get older, you have to be adaptable. Doors open in different ways, so you have to learn to take advantage of whatever comes along.”
For “On Golden Pond” ticket information, call 215-247-8881. For reservations: 215-247-9913.