In a brief and surprise announcement, producer Ben Feldman dropped the news that Dunaway, after an absence of more than 35 years from the Broadway stage, will play Hepburn in the Broadway premiere next summer of playwright Matthew Lombardo’s one-woman-play Tea at Five. The play, in a new version by Lombardo written for this production, will be directed by the Tony-nominated John Tillinger.
Tea at Five will play a strictly limited engagement in the summer of 2019. Additional information, including the complete creative team, dates, and theater will be announced early next year.
The announcement comes on the very day that director Ivo van Hove’s Broadway production of Network is set to open. The 1976 film version won Dunaway an Oscar.
Dunaway’s last appearance on Broadway was in 1982’s The Curse of an Aching Heart, a short-lived production that couldn’t match the actress’ legendary star-making breakthrough in Arthur Miller’s 1964 After the Fall. In 1996, she won a Sarah Siddons Award for her performance as Maria Callas in the national touring company of Terrence McNally’s Master Class.
One of Dunaway’s more famous roles of the ’90s was the one she didn’t play: After being cast to replace Glenn Close in the L.A. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard musical, Dunaway was blindsided when Lloyd Webber instead shut down the L.A. production and publicly blamed the actress’ singing abilities. Dunaway filed a lawsuit, and the matter was settled out of court.
Lombardo’s Tea at Five, first performed in 2002 by actress Kate Mulgrew, is a solo play based on Hepburn’s autobiography Me: Stories of My Life. Mulgrew played the role at major regional theaters and New York’s Off Broadway Promenade Theatre. At the time, the two-act play was set in both 1938 and, in the second act, 1983. Lombardo’s revisions for the upcoming production were not detailed.
Tillinger’s directing stage credits include Love Letters with Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards, The Price with Eli Wallach, The Sunshine Boys with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Sylvia and Jewtopia, among many others.