- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

“It’s not every night the vice chairman’s daughter is in a play,” said arts supporter Victor Shargai with a loving bow to Kennedy Center’s Alma Johnson Powell following Saturday’s performance of “On Golden Pond” in the Eisenhower Theater.

The opening night party was as much a family reunion as a celebration of the stellar cast that features James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams starring as an older couple healing an estranged relationship with their only child, the role played by actress Linda Powell, daughter of Mrs. Powell and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Needless to say, the parents were ecstatic. Mr. Powell said it was possibly the only time since Christmas they had all been together.

The pack of Powells out in force included son Michael, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and a second daughter, Anne, a television producer in New York, plus assorted spouses, relatives, colleagues and friends. Ernest Johnson, author of the 1978 play that has been performed in 33 languages on six continents, said little of the dialogue had been changed and almost none of the language updated for contemporary audiences — not even the slang.

It was the senior Mr. Powell’s first time seeing the play in either its stage or film version, and he grimaced — diplomatically, of course — at mention of the award-winning screenplay that had anti-war militant Jane Fonda in the same role as the one his daughter plays.

The evening was also something of a triumph for Mr. Jones, 73, whose last stage role was “Fences” in Los Angeles 1988 and for Miss Uggams, a radiant 61, who had less than a week to learn the part of the wife of the curmudgeonly retired professor after Diahann Carroll suddenly bowed out due to illness.

“She was flawless,” beamed Colin Powell, hailing Miss Uggams, whose stage career began at the age of 9 at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.

— Ann Geracimos

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