By Kenneth Jones
26 Jun 2005
Playbill.com learned June 21 that producers were posting a provisional closing notice for June 26 while they waited to see if Jones — a Tony Award nominee for his work in the production — would be well enough to return June 28 and keep the show going.
Jones' doctors determined on June 23 that "the seriousness of recuperating from pneumonia would prevent his return until sometime in August," according to a press statement. The show was to have run through Labor Day. Jones is expected to eventually fully recover from his illness.
"The entire On Golden Pond family is heartbroken to close this production prematurely," said producer Jeffrey Finn in a statement, "and it's especially disappointing that James Earl Jones won't be with us for our final performances. Unfortunately, when we take a hard look at the financial reality of running several more weeks without him, closing is our most responsible decision. We all wish James Earl as swift a recovery as possible."
Jones, a beloved and respected American actor who has won two Tony Awards, is a major draw for the production, which co-stars Tony Award-winner Leslie Uggams.
The revival of the Ernest Thompson play dipped to low sales (some 36 percent of capacity June 13-19) after Jones missed performances starting June 15. Standby Charles Turner went on in his place as cranky, retired professor Norman Thayer and will continued the week of June 21.
The Leonard Foglia-directed production was nominated for 2005 Tony Award in the category of Best Revival (Play).
The production started as a limited run in Washington, DC, and Wilmington, DE, in fall 2004. Audiences and critics liked it so much that it prompted producers to move it to Broadway. A national tour will go out in the future, the producers said, although no casting was announced for it.