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On Golden Pond comes to Salisbury Playhouse
SALISBURY Playhouse’s new season starts next week with On Golden Pond, and its stars are looking forward to bringing a tale of discovery and family to life on stage.
Local boy Harry Emerson, 19, from Downton is preparing to make his professional debut as Billy Ray Jnr, a 13- year-old from California who forms a grandfather/grandson bond with the main characterm, Norman.
Norman, played by Christian Rodska, is a semi-retired English professor approaching his 80th birthday.
He and his wife have been staying at their house on Golden Pond every year for about 40 years, but now he’s starting to have trouble remembering.
Rodska said: “There’s a lot of humour in the play and it mostly comes from his grumpiness.
“Their relationship develops and they have this sort of grandfather/grandson bond from which they both grow. It’s really good fun.”
Emerson has always been interested in theatre, and both his parents have been involved in the Playhouse – his mother used to work at the theatre and his father Richard played Ernie in the Playhouse’s successful musical A Man of No Importance earlier this year.
Emerson was also a member of the youth theatre group DADA in Downton and took took a BTEC performing arts course while also getting involved at the Playhouse on the technical side, working with the stage crews.
For him it has been strange playing a character so much younger than he is.
“When you’re in college you’re with people your age so, unless it’s something specifically for young people, you often play someone older, so it’s very odd to play 13 again,” he says.
“Looking back on myself at that age is strange. I remember being this eager kid who wanted to do everything and prove myself to everyone.”
In a curious coincidence, Rodska’s first professional job when he was 19 was also at Salisbury Playhouse.
That was in the time of repertory theatre when actors stayed with a specific theatre, and Rodska spent a year at the old Playhouse.
“It’s extraordinary to be back after 40- odd years,” he said. “I’ve been and seen plays here in between because I live in Bath, but I was delighted when I knew I was going to be doing it.
“As soon as I read the script I was interested. It’s very funny and also a marvellous cross-generation experience.
“Everybody has a journey and they all discover things about themselves and the other people in the story.
“That combination of the depth in the characters and the writing with humour is irresistible really.”
Neither of them have seen the Oscarwinning film starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, but said the show will be very different.
Rodska said: “You can’t really compare them because they will look totally different.
You get long scenes in theatre that you wouldn’t get in the film and in film you get close ups that you can’t do in theatre.
“I deliberately wouldn’t see the film.
Before I played Churchill someone sent me a film and I thought ‘I don’t want to see someone else doing it’.”
* On Golden Pond is in the Main House at Salisbury Playhouse from September 12 to October 5. For tickets call 01722 320333.
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