Veteran actress Katharine Hepburn will live again next year as Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway takes on the role of the iconic star in the Broadway production of Tea at Five. For Faye, this will be the first time in 35 years that she’s hit the New York stage, the last time being 1982’s The Curse of an Aching Heart.
Tea at Five, written by Matthew Lombardo and directed by John Tillinger, is the revival of a 2002 production that had starred Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), in a role that she was truly born to play. The setting is 1983 in the aftermath of a car accident that left Katharine homebound, the focus is largely on her romance with fellow actor Spencer Tracy.
Reprinted on TotallyKate.com is Matthew’s reflections on writing the show that had appeared in the original program book of the Pasadena Playhouse: “Something was blatantly missing. Answers. The responses to all the questions we have been asking ourselves about Katharine Hepburn. Questions like, why did such an independent woman play mistress to a married man for 27 years? What was it that drove her to desperately seek the validation from a father who she knew would never give approval? How does a shy and awkward thirteen-year-old girl who finds her brother’s dead body process that loss, especially when she was forbidden to ever speak his name again?
“Hepburn,” he continued, “never really answered those questions along with a host of others. Even when writing her autobiography, she remained insistent on not defending or justifying who she was, how she conducted herself, or why she chose to live the life she did. Don’t complain. Don’t explain. It was those simple four words she uttered in life that helped me complete the dialogue she would speak in this play. For all things, private would remain just that: private. So I sat back down at the computer, consciously choosing to honor her well-kept secrecy. It would be unfair and presumptuous of me or any writer to dissect or apply false emotion she may or may not have experienced. I simply wrote her story from her perspective. And from that ideology, Tea at Five was completed.”
It will certainly be interesting to see what Faye Dunaway does with the part when Tea at Five makes its debut during Summer 2019.