|Question: Where did Katharine Hepburn make
her professional acting debut?
It's true. On September 12, 1928 at the tender
age of 21, after moving to Baltimore to join Edwin Knopf's acting company,
Hepburn made her professional stage debut as a lady-in-waiting--with no
lines--in Edward Sheldon's adaptation of The Czarina. And didn't
stay long, however, making her Broadway debut later that same year. But
it would be four years before she made her first film--igniting a career
that lasted seven decades and brought the world a new and singular vision
of the American Woman.
This indomitable legend--and her wide-ranging
career--are now showcased once again on Baltimore's stages as Matthew Lombardo's
critically acclaimed play, Tea at Five, opens at the historic
Hippodrome Theatre. Hailed by critics during its Off Broadway run, Tea
at Five is more than a theatrical love letter to an American movie
icon; Kate Mulgrew's uncanny performance makes you feel as if you've been
invited into the reclusive star's home for a frank conversation with Katharine
Set in 1938 (Act 1) and 1983 (Act 2), the
play offers snapshots of distinct and compelling moments in Hepburn's life:
first as a 31-year-old rising star recovering from a string of unpardonable
movie "flops," then in the twilight of her career as she recovers from
a broken ankle received after crashing her own car into a tree at age 76.
These two disparate moments in Hepburn's life are made even more striking
by the remarkable transformation Mulgrew undergoes during the play's brief
15-minute intermission. It's a moment of theatrical and artistic "magic"
that has inspired gasps and cheers from audiences at every performance.
Mulgrew hopes audiences will embrace Tea
at Five "with an open heart and as a great tribute to a great woman.
I did this to honor her."