In an unexpected turn of events, the hit Matthew Lombardo play Tea at Five, starring Kate Mulgrew as the legendary actress, is being forced to vacate the Promenade Theatre. According to news reports, Promenade owner Ben Sprecher has promised the sought after Off-Broadway space to The Thing About Men, the new musical by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts.
"The contract that they signed said that they had an absolute date of termination of July 13," Sprecher told the New York Times. "I called them six to eight weeks ago and said I was talking to other shows. Then, at the same time I was signing the new show, they approached me with the possibility that they would continue, but at that point it was too late."
The producers of Tea say they would like to stay. The play has been selling well and talks were underway for Mulgrew to extend. Producer Daryl Roth told the Times that she expected more warning than Sprecher gave her: "We did sign a closed-end deal, but certainly thought we'd have the courtesy to extend that."
Apparently, Sprecher is sticking to his agreement with The Thing About Men, and Tea at Five is currently looking for a new home.
Mulgrew has garnered nominations for Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle awards. John Tillinger directs the show, which opened at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre March 9. Previews began at Feb. 25. Daryl Roth, David Gersten, Paul Morer, Michael Filerman, and Amy and Scott Nederlander produce.
Tea at Five finds Hepburn — who is a longtime Connecticut resident — at her home in Old Saybrook. The first act takes place in 1938, a brief dip in Hepburn's career when a series of film flops got her branded "box office poison." She would soon rebound with The Philadelphia Story, in which she starred on Broadway before buying up the film rights. In this section of the play, the actress reflects on her patrician, privileged upbringing, no doubt touching on her devotion to her father and her vaunted athletic prowess.
The second act speeds ahead 45 years to 1983. Here, recuperating from a car accident, she looks back on her storied career and famed romance with fellow (and married) actor Spencer Tracy.
For tickets to Tea at Five at the Promenade, 2126 Broadway (at 76th Street), call (212) 239-6200 or click here.