Glen Gerrard
May 16, 2018

FACE OFF... ON GOLDEN POND 1989

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Edited: May 28, 2018

When director Maggie Frost cast me as Norman Thayer Jr. in On Golden Pond, I was about half the age of this weathered 80 year old character, as was Teesie Vallero who played Ethel Thayer ("Thounds like I'm lithping, dothn't it?") so after experimenting with standard makeup, neither of us were too happy with the obviously drawn on age lines and shadowed areas meant to show the effects of time. We tried many things until we found skin toned Liquid Latex which was applied with a sponge, and took a long time to dry, as the directions advised not to speak or move any area of the face or neck, so we sat staring into our mirrors for what seemed like hours. We used hair dryers to speed up the process, and after a short countdown, we both raised our eyebrows and formed a large "O" with our mouths, to sit in awe as the magic happened. All of the wrinkles and lines that we would one day have aged us far beyond our years, and we burst into laughter. I looked much closer to 80, but when I took one look at Teesie I remarked, "Well, I sure look old, but you look like you've been dead for ten years!"

Before the first performance someone suggested that I use something to prepare the skin, and I can't recall if it was Cold Cream or Crisco, so without giving it much thought I applied it and wiped it off. The show began, and not long after I made my slow motion entrance, something didn't feel right under the lights. At one point I sat in my chair attempting to read a book, to avoid helping Ethel get our cabin in shape after being closed for the winter. Every time I moved my head or spoke, it became more obvious that I was in trouble. I hesitated to reach up and touch my face, and when I did I could feel that the latex was hanging loose in large areas and flapping around. I was convinced that I was turning this sweet play into a horror show! I tried not to panic and concentrated on my lines but as soon as I had the opportunity to exit into the kitchen area, I saw the Stage Manager, Marianne Ennenbach, and reached out to her wide eyed and in a muffled scream , "My face is falling off!" as I quickly ripped off some of the larger pieces of the latex, and made my way back on stage, feeling like I wasn't quite as frightening. As soon as the scene was over, I stomped my way back to the makeup mirror, ripping off a torrent of obscenities that flowed out easier than any of my lines. I removed the remaining residue, applied some age lines and the show continued as if nothing had gone wrong.

It never happened again and the show was one of the most enjoyable on stage experiences I have had. As an epilog to this memory, I no longer need latex to make me look older, but after this experience, I noticed that the jowls and sagging skin under my chin was there to stay. My lawsuit against Maggie and stage 212 for "Contributing to my Premature Aging" is being prepared.

 

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