Andria Theatre's 'On Golden Pond' reflects family themes

The spring show opens Friday, April 23, and runs for two weekends.

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The mailman Charlie Martin, played by Kip Sundlee, reminisces with Chelsea Thayer, played by Robin Ryding, (middle) and Ethel Thayer, played Miriam Thornquist (right) in a scene of "On Golden Pond" when Chelsea returns home to visit her parents. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

Whether the spunky 13-year-old or forgetful 80-year-old, Andria Theatre’s spring show represents family dynamics that audience members of all ages can relate to.

“On Golden Pond” centers around an aging couple, retiree Norman Thayer and his wife Ethel. The two spend their summers at a vacation home on a lake in Maine.

For Norman’s 80th birthday, his adult daughter, Chelsea, visits with her new fiancé and his teenage son on their way to Europe.

“It’s a very potent story about what every family struggles with: aging, regret, forgiveness,” said Donna Magnuson, director of “On Golden Pond.”

Jayme O’Brien, who plays Billy Ray the fiancé's son. O'Brien said he became interested in acting by seeing different movies and watching one of his friends perform in a production of “High School Musical.”


O’Brien said he likes playing Billy because it pushes him to take on a different persona.

“I’m not normally like this character, so it’s cool to step out of your own world and be someone else for a little bit,” O’Brien said.

Miriam Thornquist, who plays Ethel Thayer, has enjoyed acting for as long as she can remember. As a child, she would sit on the edge of her mother’s bed and gaze into the vanity mirror, pretending to be a Catholic nun.

“I liked the outfit, but I was so disappointed when my mom said we were Lutheran, so I couldn’t be a nun,” Thornquist said with a laugh.

She had her first acting experience in “Sound of Music” at Jefferson High School and has participated in a handful of shows since then.

Her character Ethel is a woman in her 60s who likes talking to loons, which Thornquist said aligns pretty well with her own personality, too.

“That’s sort of the easy part,” she said.

With a seven-member cast, Thornquist said she’s appreciated the bonds that have formed the more time they spend together. The group gets each other laughing, but then they have to control their fun to get work done and say their lines.


“You kinda get to know each other a little bit,” she said. “Just such nice people.”

Kip Sundlee, playing Charlie Martin, a mailman who has known the family for years, first started acting in 1981 because he was asked to go try out. The theater needed more males to fill roles.

Sundlee received a small speaking part, but it was far more than he had anticipated. This sparked his interest in acting, and he wanted to stay involved however he could. From light-hearted “Beauty in the Beast” to murder mystery “The Mousetrap,” Sundlee has acted in a broad range of shows.

His character Charlie laughs at pretty much everything, so he said the challenge in preparing for this role has been to articulate his words clearly and insert laughter where it best fits in the dialogue.

“That’s just me, I laugh all the time,” Sundlee said. “I like to make people laugh, so I come up with either the stupidest comments, or I come up with something that is kinda quirky and funny, or something that’s actually quite witty once in a while. I get them all in there. If it’s a laugh, I’ll take it.”

Magnuson said Sundlee’s part is the comic relief of the show, but Sundlee added that Chuck Grussing’s snarky comeback lines as Norman Thayer are what help lighten the mood for him.

Since the February show “ Nuncrackers ” was filled up at 25% capacity, Sundlee hopes the community will continue to come back and fill the seats now that the theater is up to 50% capacity.

“It’s something to take yourself away from life, getting in the theater,” he said. “Leave your troubles someplace else. Come here and imagine for a couple hours.”


If you go

When: April 23-24 and April 30-May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and April 25 and May 2 at 2 p.m.

Where: Andria Theatre, 618 Broadway St., Alexandria

Tickets: Go to or call the box office at 320-762-8300.


Norman Thayer – Chuck Grussing

Ethel Thayer – Miriam Thornquist

Chelsea Thayer – Robin Ryding

Charlie Martin – Kip Sundlee

Bill Ray – Adam Hunter


Billy Ray – Jayme O’Brien

Operator – Leah Drexler


Director – Donna Magnuson

AD/stage manager – Leah Drexler

Make up/hair/lights – Maryn Cabinaw

Costume – KD Tomoson

Set construction – Regan Peterson and Quincy Roers

Props/set design – Holly Wallerich


Sound design – Greg Raether

Sound technician – Bryce Galle

Jasmine Johnson joined the Echo Press staff in May 2020 as a general assignment reporter. She grew up in Becker, Minn., and later studied journalism and graphic design at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.
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