Iannone as Kate Hepburn at In Tandem Theatre
Katharine Houghton Hepburn, screen legend, is reborn in Milwaukee courtesy of In Tandem Theatre and actress Angela Iannone. Iannone stars in Tea at Five, Matthew Lombardo’s award-winning monodrama about Hepburn at two stages in her life: In fall 1938, after suffering of series of bad career choices and being deemed box-office poison; and in winter 1983, just before she filmed Love Affair with Warren Beatty.
Tea At Five presents a very vulnerable Kate Hepburn. She’s feisty, intelligent, liberal, articulate and self-centered, but also very human. Iannone superbly captures both Kates: the young ingénue who thinks she’s through in Hollywood and the aging star afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. Iannone has mastered Hepburn’s unique diction and mannerisms and her indomitable spirit.
Iannone also reveals a woman who desperately tried to make her father proud of her, suffered the loss of an older brother and devotedly loved an unattainable man for 27 years. That was Spencer Tracy, who would never be able to fully commit to her.
As the younger version of the film star, Iannone appears in Hepburn’s iconic menswear: a tailored black shirt, white trousers and classic oxfords. She’s at home in a realistic, comfortable stage rendering of the Houghton family living room. Chronologically, Iannone might be a little old for this stage in Hepburn’s career, but she embodies her subject with such fierce emotion and determination that any such concern disappears.
Tea and conversation at 5 p.m. was a Houghton family tradition. Attending this play is a little like going to tea with a bright, surprising woman who’s had her share of disappointments and heartbreaks. We can identify with her. Every person, despite fame or fortune, carries a unique personal history filled with rejection, loss, death, illness and aging. In Tea at Five, the incomparable Katharine Hepburn, as conceived by the playwright and inhabited by Angela Iannone, shares her life with grace and style — and without apology.
In Tandem Theatre Company presents Tea at Five through October 25 at the 10th Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St. For tickets and information: 414 271-1371.