Matthew Lombardo’s bio-play about four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn, Tea at Five, has been optioned for Broadway by Dear Evan Hansen co-producer Ken Fakler.
Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black, Star Trek) won over critics with her portrayal of the screen legend in the original production, which premiered at Hartford Stage in 2002 prior to an Off-Broadway run the following year.
John Tillinger, the play’s original director, is attached to helm the potential Broadway staging. Casting is still underway for the solo vehicle.
“We are making offers to certain actresses right now,” said Lombardo, who also revealed that he has revised Tea at Five for its Broadway premiere. “The focus is now on the older Hepburn,” he said.
The play’s two-act format (the first of which was set in 1938, just prior to Hepburn's rebound in The Philadelphia Story) has been streamlined into a 90-minute event that expands upon the 1983-set second act.
Audiences will encounter Hepburn recuperating from a car accident at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, as she looks back on her storied career and famed romance with fellow (and married) actor Spencer Tracy.
Lombardo's latest solo vehicle Who’s Holiday!, a twisted take on Dr. Seuss that imagines Cindy Lou Who 40 years after her encounter with The Grinch, is set to open Off-Broadway November 28 starring Lesli Margherita.
Lombardo is also at work on a stage adaptation of A Hundred Million Miracles, based on the memoir by Broadway musical director, arranger, and pianist Paul Ford whose career is closely associated with Stephen Sondheim (having served as the pianist for the original productions of Passion, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park With George, and Assassins).
“It’s about his life in the theatre,” Lombardo said. “How he started playing the piano in the first national tour of Annie, working with Stephen Sondheim, and his whole journey in this career. I just found his story fascinating. It’s told from the other side of the piano. He’s just observing the people in the room from behind the piano.”
After taking on Hepburn in Tea at Five and Tallulah Bankhead in his 2010 Broadway play Looped, Lombardo says his next project will be a play-with-music about troubled British singer Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011 at the age of 26.
“There’s something about her story that is just pulling me,” he said. “And the more I watch those concerts that she gave right before she died, she’s not even there. I have to get into her story.”