Friday, October 29, 2010

Stephanie Zimbalist Takes on Katharine Hepburn

Photo by Chelsea Sutton

When we first learned that Stephanie Zimbalist was playing Katharine Hepburn in a one woman show, we were nervous. Not that we don't think that the former Remington Steele star is a talented actress in her own right. But, Hepburn is an icon... and one with the kind of very distinct, easily overdone speech affectation that can go terribly wrong when put in the wrong mouth. But we were pleasantly surprised by the show Tea at Five at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank-adjacent Toluca Lake, California.

As is always the case at the Garry Marshall owned playhouse, the production values were excellent. The set transported the audience to the Hepburn family beach house in 1937. A film flop addled Hepburn was waiting for the big call—would she get the career reviving part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind?

We all know how that worked out. But we didn't know some of the more interesting details about Hepburn's personal life—her brother's tragic death, her failed marriage, and her conversation with Spencer Tracey's wife when he passed away.

Zimbalist pranced about the stage in Act 1, playing then 31-year-old Hepburn, with the physical agility of a star who seems destined for her mainstream comeback next season on Dancing with the Stars. But the beauty of her performance was how emotionally grounded she was as the guarded 77-year-old actress in Act 2.

If you're a fan of Hepburn of Zimbalist, Tea at Five will not disappoint. Credit is due to director Jenny Sullivan, as well.

For more information on the show, which runs through November 14, visit the Falcon Theatre website.

And don't miss out on the Falcon's always entertaining holiday show. This year they're mounting a production called The First Jo-el (as in Billy) from December 1 through January 16. Tickets go on sale on November 9.

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