Katharine Hepburn had many comebacks over her long and rocky career. Now, Kate Mulgrew, who earlier this year played Hepburn in Hartford Stage's Tea at Five, will have a comeback of her own.
The actress, who, due to vocal stress, was forced to bow out of several performances during Hartford's Feb. 9-March 10 run, returned to the theatre April 7 to begin a week of make-up performances. She will stay through April 13. The remaining schedule for the play by Matthew Lombardo runs as follows:
April 8 at 2 PM
April 9 at 7:30 PM
April 10 at 7:30 PM
April 11 at 7:30 PM
April 12 at 8 PM
April 13 at 2:30 PM
Most tickets have been distributed to subscribers who were denied a seating during the original run. But some tickets and standing room only passes have been released. To order, call the Hartford Stage box office at (860) 527-5151.
* The Hartford Stage production of Tea at Five may reach New York City this fall. Mulgrew, who has been suffering from inflamed vocal chords, said on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" Feb. 28 that the Katharine Hepburn bio-play would reach "New York in the late fall—we hope."
Mulgrew did not specify Broadway or Off-Broadway, but one source has the show definitely angling for Broadway. No official announcement has been made about the New York plans for Tea at Five.
If Mulgrew does reach Manhattan, she may join Elaine Stritch, Nathan Lane and Kevin Bacon as the latest star to play less that the standard eight shows a week. Mulgrew, complaining of vocal trouble, bowed out of several performances of Tea at Five early in the run. She cut back to only six shows a week.
John Tillinger, that roving director of the Northeast (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre), helmed the work.
Mulgrew will spend the coming months campaigning for her husband Tim Hagan, who is running for the governor's seat in Ohio.
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 an car accident, she looks back on her storied career and famed romance with fellow (and married) actor Spencer Tracy.
"I've often been likened to her," Mulgrew told Playbill On-Line. Playwright Matthew Lombardo recalled being at a friend's house about five years ago, and marveling at Mulgrew's Hepburnesque qualities. "It was at that point that I decided to write the play, inspired by Kate," Lombardo says. "The play would not have been written without Kate. Kate is astonishing in the role. I am utterly in awe—just to watch her work, create this character from the words on the page."
When asked what drew her to Lombardo's work, Mulgrew replied, "The words!... All one's life one hears about this woman. And now we have this play, using the conceit of this one woman show — the youthful, embattled Hepburn versus the older Hepburn."
Mulgrew has appeared on Broadway in Black Comedy and in Central Park in Titus Andronicus, but she is far better known as the strong jawed Captain Janeway, who spends most of her time piloting "Star Trek: Voyager." The first "Voyager" motion picture, titled "Star Trek: Nemesis," was recently filmed.
—By Robert Simonson
and David Greven