June 21, 2001
By FRANK RIZZO
Courant Staff Writer
In a way, it was inevitable.
After all, Hartford's Katharine Hepburn has been a prominent figure in the American entertainment landscape for most of the 20th century. When you combine her stage, film and television career with her unique and independent personal style, you can understand why so many people have been enamored of the woman, who at 94 still lives in her Fenwick family homestead in Old Saybrook.
Now Matthew Lombardo, who grew up in Wethersfield, has written a one-person show about Hepburn at two significant stages of the actress's life. "Tea at Five" will be presented Feb. 7 to March 10 as part of Hartford Stage's main-stage season. Kate Mulgrew, known for her role as Captain Janeway in TV's "Star Trek: Voyager," will play Hepburn at two significant stages of her life: when she returned to Connecticut after being banished by studio heads for being "box office poison" in 1938; when she was 76 in 1983 after her automobile accident. No director has yet been named for the new work.
The first act ends with her receiving the script to the play "The Philadelphia Story," which was to revive her career. Coincidentally, the Philip Barry play will open the main-stage season at Hartford Stage Oct. 4 to Nov. 4. David Warren,who staged the currently playing "Baptiste," will direct "The Philadelphia Story."
Neither Hepburn nor her family has been approached regarding the work and production, so it is unknown what her reaction will be to the dramatizing of her life. Lombardo portrays it as a tribute to the actress but adds he will honestly touch on all aspects of her life.
Michael Wilson, artistic director of Hartford Stage, says there are efforts to encourage other local institutions to have their own celebrations of Hepburn's life.
Copyright Hartford Courant
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