BWW Review: TEA AT FIVE at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre
- On Friday, August 25, I had the pleasure of my very first experience seeing a play that has only one cast member. I am pleased to say that when the one cast member is as talented as Kelly Boucher, one cast member is all you need! TEA AT FIVE was an amazing show, performed with the first-rate quality that is characteristic of all the shows at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin, CT, directed by Kris McMurray. This comedy, written by Matthew Lombardo, has a type of timeless humor that transcends generations.
Kelly Boucher, playing the role of Katherine Hepburn, captivates the audience from the start, keeping our full attention through both acts, in a dynamic performance that paints a fascinating picture of a big screen legend, while providing insider glimpses into the behind the scenes side of the film industry, as it has existed throughout the years. Spot on in nailing Katherine Hepburn's voice, Kelly Boucher's facial expressions are always consistent with what she is doing or saying, to the point where it is very easy for the audience to forget that we are not actually seeing the real Katherine Hepburn.
Much of the dialogue is first-person narration to the audience, done so well that each audience member feels as if we are on the listening side of a personal conversation with Katherine Hepburn, and so fascinated by what we are hearing, that we don't even think about interjecting. We just want to hear what she is going to tell us, next.
Some of the dialogue is Katherine Hepburn's side of phone conversations. While speaking on the old-fashioned telephone, Kelly Boucher pauses and reacts so realistically, that the audience forgets that there is no real person on the other side of the phone. It feels as if we are in a room with someone who is on the phone, and we can infer what the person on the other side of the phone is saying, based on the responses of the person who we can hear. It makes this one woman show feel like there are other cast members on stage with her, even though there aren't.
Act one is set in 1938, while Katherine Hepburn was eagerly anticipating a phone call from her agent, hoping that she landed the role of Scarlet O' Hara. She is offended by the lies that journalists have written about her, and talks about how success in her industry can be very fleeting. She is very open about things not going her way, and about some of the corruption she has experienced in the industry, including an unpleasant encounter with John Barrymore, who she later grew to respect.
Act two moves forward to 1983, Katherine Hepburn now much older, walking with a cane, and suffering from Parkinson's disease. Kelly Boucher's make-up, voice, and trembling successfully transition her realistic depiction of young Katherine Hepburn to an impressively genuine portrayal of older Katherine Hepburn. Katherine still talks about the way journalists continue to lie about her, and speaks of how she perceives that the film industry and patrons thereof are less interested in seeing older actresses. She speaks about some of the tragedy that had impacted her family, when she was younger, delivering the stories so powerfully that the audience genuinely feels for her. She also speaks about her affair with Spencer Tracy, and her later encounter with his wife. Intertwined with her more serious autobiographical stories, she incorporates comic relief, with superb delivery, highlighted by a story about a friend who had once chipped one of her dishes, and tried to hide that fact from Katherine. (For full details on that story, come see the show!)
TEA AT FIVE is scheduled to run every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM through September 23, at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin, CT. For info on tickets, go to http://ctcabaret.com/ I highly recommend TEA AT FIVE, as it provides a wonderful glimpse into the life of one of the most intriguing legends of the big screen, while enthralling the audience with an excellent theatrical experience!