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Feldshuh as Hepburn Serves Up An Emotional 'Tea at Five'

There is a tea party happening at the Northlight Theatre that everyone is invited to and nobody who remotely cares about the craft of acting should miss. The host of the tea party is none other than Katharine Hepburn who is alive and well and still living in Tovah Feldshuh.

Ms. Feldshuh, who is one of the world's finest actresses, has left all pretenses behind (as she did with Golda Meir) and now inhabits the soul of Ms. Hepburn in the one woman play, Tea at Five. The reworked story, by Matthew Lombardo, which is based on Hepburn's book, "Me: The Stories of My Life", dispels the myths and rumors surrounding her life as she tells her invited guests what made her the woman and the legend Hepburn has become. Make no mistake, Katharine Hepburn was a lady. Never once does Feldshuh let you forget that fact. Neither in her voice or her mannerisms is there ever a doubt the Hollywood royalty title Hepburn finally garnered after being labeled "box office poison" was well deserved.

The original play, which ran in New York and toured with Kate Mulgrew in the role, was a two act piece in which act one took place in 1938 and the second in 1983 after a car accident left Ms. Hepburn with a broken ankle. The Lombardo/Feldshuh version reduces the piece to a single act where the story begins right after the car accident and flashes back to her early career and finishes where it starts. This gives a much more understandable and cohesive arch to Hepburn's emotions and what shaped her life; including her unemotional father, a family plagued with suicides (including Hepburn's brother whom she found hanging) and an honest sense of her sexual identity and her companionship with Spenser Tracy.

Director John Tillinger, who also directed the aforementioned version, keeps the story compact and gives the actor the freedom to work, though not every director has the fortune of such a talent such as Tovah.

The play is here for a very limited run, however, in this season of parties, stress and shopping, why not take ninety minutes out of your day and have a cup of tea with Ms. Hepburn. She would love your company (Though be careful–I hear the tea tends to be spiked.)

Tea at Five plays through December 23, 2007 at the Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, Illinois. For showtimes and ticket information please call (847) 673-6300 or visit

Listen to Tovah Feldshuh's interview with Stage Door Chicago to find out more about her journey to becoming Katharine Hepburn.

Photo: Tovah Feldshuh

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