March 30, 2003
View the interview on NY1's website!
Many Thanks! to my transcriber! Please do not repost.
Announcer: We turn now from cowboys (referring to the previous piece on "Urban Cowboy") to Katharine Hepburn. The life story of this legendary movie star is now being played out Off Broadway courtesy of a former Star Trek star. (Over a clip from "The Philadelphia Story") Actresses as a rule have shied away from playing the legendary Katharine Hepburn (clip continues and changes to one from "Bringing Up Baby"). Many see the twentieth century icon as far too sophisticated – too talented – too well – Kate Hepburn to be assumed by anyone else. (As a clip from "Tea at Five" plays) But now another Kate – Kate Mulgrew – has taken it upon herself to try her hand at one of the biggest screen legends of our time.
Kate Mulgrew: When I started rehearsals there was no little trepidation on my part about what exactly I had undertaken and the magnitude of it. However as it evolved I… I fell in love with her, I now realized that I did that, and that was the… that was the alchemy. That was the ingredient that turned this all into an extraordinary journey.
Announcer (over another clip from the play): Playwright Matthew Lombardo wrote the one woman show "Tea at Five" for Mulgrew after he saw her playing the strong willed Captain Janeway (clip from Voyager) in the Star Trek: Voyager series. While her role as a starship captain may seem worlds away from Katharine Hepburn there was an uncanny likeness to the screen's all-time spitfire.
Kate Mulgrew: I see the similarities - vocally I would say particularly. Perhaps there's enough physically to excite in people that parallel. But probably attitude. We're not dissimilar in our approach to life.
Announcer: (over another clip from the play) Mulgrew takes on the eerie likeness of the younger and then the older Kate Hepburn while unleashing a whirlwind of stories, some a little fictionalized, but most offering an entertaining glimpse into the life of a very private star.
The first act focuses on Katharine Hepburn, aged thirty-one, waiting to hear if she got the part of Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind". (play clip continues and then changes to scene from "Bringing Up Baby") Once considered the Hollywood darling of the nineteen thirties, the now down and out actress tries desperately to reignite her career after a series of supposed 'flops', including "Bringing Up Baby" and "Stage Door". Hepburn's legendary love affair with Spencer Tracy (clip changes to one from "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") is the subject of the second act as the older actress reminisces about her past.
Kate Mulgrew: The seventy-six year old Kate is more accessible, by the simple virtue of the fact that one can see her. All of that film is available. Documentaries are available. News clips are available– lending itself to a certain – as I just said – accessibility which is lacking in the young Kate.
Announcer (over another clip from the play): For Mulgrew, "Tea at Five" is clearly more than a simple attempt to imitate Hepburn. She views it as a tribute to the actress.
Kate Mulgrew: I think it is an exploration and investigation of the true character of this woman and what it is that shaped her. Her family. Her love for Spencer Tracy. But more importantly, her very complex nature which one doesn't see on film or on the page often.
Announcer: And you can catch "Tea at Five" at the Promenade Theater on the Upper West Side.