Minion shines in 'Golden Pond'

B'ville Theatre Guild play tickles the funny-bone yet touches the heart

Acting requires courage, the courage to crawl inside the skin of a stranger.

For the past quarter-century local actor Tom Minion has donned the masks of heroes and villains and the occasional oddball. His roles have been many and varied, running the spectrum from a classical Van Helsing in Dracula to an offbeat transvestite husband in Looking for Normal.

2007 was a banner year for Minion who excelled as the arrogant Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law in Sin: A Cardinal Deposed in April and played Sam, a man who may or may not be a pedophile, in the film thriller, Clay.

Minion's chameleon-like ability to embody a wide range of characters serves him well in his current role as the ever-irascible octogenarian Norman Thayer in Baldwinsville Theatre Guild's production of On Golden Pond, directed by Bryan Allen Jones. On the surface, Norman's just a cranky old coot, but Minion manages to show may more sides of the aging cynic.

Minion's Norman is a man with a temper tempered by flashes of tenderness. When the situation calls for it, Minion offers up confusion, pathos and love. Even though Norman won't admit he has such feelings, Minion makes the audience see that he certainly does.

In case you missed the 1981 movie version of Ernest Thompson's stage play, the Henry Fonda-Kate Hepburn swan song that won 10 Academy Awards, here's the basic plot:

Thayer, a retired professor, and his somewhat younger wife, Ethel, have summered at a cottage on Golden Pond, in Maine, for 48 years. This summer their estranged daughter, Chelsea, returns to celebrate Norman's 80th birthday. She and her fianc (c), a dentist, are heading to Europe but will return in a few weeks to pick up the fianc (c)'s son, Billy. When she returns, Chelsea is married and her stepson is enjoying the kind of relationship with Norman that she'd always craved in vain.

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