Posts Tagged With: Katharine Hepburn

IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE DOES DREAMGIRLS

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In Ivoryton, Connecticut, the Ivoryton Playhouse was the first summer theatre in Connecticut and is a distinguished and significant contribution to the arts in the area, attracting theatre buffs from New York and Massachusetts, and elsewhere.

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They’ve also attracted top name talent, like Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Mercedes McCambridge, Marlon Brando, Betty Grable, Art Carney, Groucho Marx,  to mention a few of the notables.

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The playhouse itself is charming and intimate with only about 120 seats and then there are elephants. This is a sculpture in the front yard of the playhouse. An elephant with toes resembling piano keys. You have to know a bit about Ivoryton to understand the significance.

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Ivoryton was the home of two piano companies. Those were the days when the keys were made of ivory. Thus, you see elephant motifs at the playhouse and all about town. Once radio, television and mass entertainment took over the standard parlor piano for entertainment, the piano business began to wane and the old buildings that once housed piano making are now closed. It is said 90% of the ivory imported to the United States passed through Ivoryton. Smaller companies also made ivory combs, dice, jewelry, sculptures and other sundries.

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No theatre allows pictures of a play in progress, but we were free to photograph the inside of the building. On the side walls are many pictures of the stars that played here, and they were many.

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The pictures behind glass are hard to photograph with any success. The glare is impossible. DSC08105

I enjoyed viewing them, even if they don’t photograph well. So many old familiar faces.

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The Dream Girls, the play we saw was a preview where the playhouse invites criticism. Technically, we could detect no glitch. It was done perfectly. The voices of the men and women who eventually made it big at Motown were big, wonderful voices. The whole play was done musically and music was the theme. But, for us, the playwright chose to tell the entire story in song instead of having the plot spoken in interludes, the struggles, the girls and guys taken advantage of by unscrupulous agents, etc. they sang their lines and it was difficult to follow the plot.  Sometimes the music was so loud you couldn’t hear the lines well enough. But, the theme is certainly worthy and Motown music would have made it sooo much better.

Others loved it, so who are we to criticize?

After the theatre, we poked around a little antique store across from the theatre and I always find stuff I like, but luckily I can’t buy much when we live in a motor home.

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KATHARINE HEPBURN FANS

Ivoryton, CT, where we are staying, was familiar territory for Katharine Hepburn. She began her acting career at the Ivoryton Playhouse with her first major performance. Born in Hartford, her  family owned a summer place in  nearby Fenwick.  Fenwick fittingly named their Cultural Arts Center for their  most famous and favorite resident. It contains a small museum, free to the public,  housed in the old Fenwick City Hall.

Her place  fronted on the sound with a spacious surround, a large pond and golf course behind, and only 40 neighbors when the place was first built. Above is a rear view of the house.
She had a brownstone in New York, but Fenwick was her favorite place to be. She shared this  “cottage” with her brother and could be seen shopping, sailing, golfing or working around the yard by locals who gallantly respected her privacy.

Here she is doing some pruning on a pine tree with a fashionable scarf around her neck.

She left no doubt about her desire to be left undisturbed. She died at the Fenwick cottage in 2003 at age 96.
My youngest daughter was an avid fan of Hepburn during her high school years, and had collected nearly every movie Hepburn made. I believe I’ve seen most of them.

Classic Hepburn, this is my favorite photo of her from the museum, although the painting below has more character and catches a glimpse of her personality. I met her on the streets of San Francisco once. She was wearing a cast on her foot and acknowledged my recognition with a slight smile and nod of her head but held a hand up to let you know not to engage her. It was done so smoothly and respectfully that one could not even think to intrude. It made me smile and continue walking.

I didn’t know that she  loved  painting, nor that she was a credible artist. She didn’t sell them, nor give many of them to friends. It was a her own private joy. There are several of her paintings in the museum.

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