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Hepburn comes to life in Foothills production.

Byline: Julie Grady

COLUMN: THEATER REVIEW

WORCESTER - A large audience gathered at the Foothills Theatre to see Amelia Broome portray, arguably, one of the greatest film icons of our time, Katharine Hepburn, in the play "Tea at Five."

Broome took the stage for the first time at Foothills to exemplify the then-modern sophisticate nearly flawlessly in all aspects of Hepburn's distinctive character.

In physical terms, Broome, a Georgia native, took on the proper Connecticut dialect and diction, not to mention Kate's infamous, tomboyish posture and comportment. Everything, down to the cigarette smoking, was reminiscent of Hepburn and the golden age of classic Hollywood narrative film.

The play is a two-act piece that invites the audience to view the more intimate side of Hepburn during tea on two different occasions in her family's Fenwick, Conn., home: Sept. 21, 1938, during her "box office poison" stint, when Hollywood shunned her despite many acting accolades, and Feb. 14, 1983, when she looks back on her career and romance with Spencer Tracy.

Act one showcased Broome's mobility and the occasional capriciousness of Hepburn as she drapes herself over furniture, legs slightly akimbo only to elegantly cross them or even reside on a fashionable ottoman Indian-style.

While Broome's adaptation was near perfect, at times she may have too greatly pushed the tomboyish essence of Hepburn or slightly faltered concerning transitions and lines. Granted, the entire play is an ongoing monologue, which is quite a task for even the most skilled actor and Broome is surely well trained.

Broome, who has a master's in theater education from Boston University, teaches voice, speech - hence her brilliant display of Hepburn's dialect - and musical theater at Emerson. In all, Broome has over 20 years of experience in opera, oratorio and musical theater.

During the second act, Broome stepped up to the task of portraying Hepburn in her later years. The curtains opened revealing an older version of the socialite, but still as rambunctious, downstage with her back to the audience as she fiddled with the fire; the resemblance was uncanny.

Broome encapsulated Hepburn entirely, down to the more elderly nuances in her voice and the threat of Parkinson's disease. While severe aging can be rather difficult for some to handle, Broome had the audience roaring with laughter. Her delivery was remarkable. However, on the odd occasion, the technical aspects did take away from Broome's performance.

Questionable and untimely lighting almost overshadowed Broome. But, the attention to detail only helped to improve the entire piece, from the pictures of Hepburn and Tracy on the mantel to noting the slight changes in technology over time.

As mentioned in the play, the press was never fond of Hepburn, but Broome's work as this "lady of perpetual indulgence" is well deserving of standing ovations. Altogether, "Tea at Five" guarantees an exquisite performance for minor ducats with tickets ranging from $30 to $35. You can catch Broome on stage at the Foothills Theatre until March 2. Tickets are available by phone, (508) 754-4018, or online at www.foothillstheatre.com.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Amelia Broome brings Katharine Hepburn to life in Foothills' `Tea at Five.'

PHOTOG: Photo for The Item
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 15, 2008
Words:525
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