Faye Dunaway to Play Katharine Hepburn on Broadway

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Faye Dunaway

The Oscar winner will return to the Great White Way after an absence of more than 35 years to star in a new version of Matthew Lombardo's 2002 solo play, 'Tea at Five.'

Faye Dunaway will take on a Hollywood legend next year, playing Katharine Hepburn in a Broadway production of Matthew Lombardo's 2002 solo play, Tea at Five.

Producers Ben Feldman and Scott Beck confirmed that the limited engagement will open on Broadway in the second half of 2019 at a theater to be announced, with John Tillinger set to direct. The venture will mark Dunaway's first time on Broadway in 37 years.

Lombardo's play, which is based on Hepburn's memoir Me: Stories of My Life, originally starred Kate Mulgrew to great acclaim. The monologue piece opens with Hepburn in contemplative mode at her Connecticut home in 1938, the year she had been labeled "box office poison" after a string of flops. Its second act jumps ahead to 1983 after Hepburn had been injured in a car crash, giving her time to reflect on her career and her relationship with Spencer Tracy.

The playwright has developed a new version for the work's Broadway premiere, though details of the changes are not yet available. Prior to Broadway, the production will play a tryout engagement at Boston's Huntington Theatre, running June 21-July 7.

Dunaway made her Broadway debut in 1962 as a replacement in the original production of Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons. She was cast by director Elia Kazan in three productions in 1964: Arthur Miller's After the Fall, S.N. Behrman's But for Whom Charlie and Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's The Changeling. Her most recent Broadway appearance was in 1982, in William Alfred's The Curse of an Aching Heart

She drew acclaim playing Maria Callas in the 1996 national tour of Terrence McNally's Master Class, but had a less fortunate association with another diva after she was hired to replace Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in the 1993 Los Angeles production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Sunset Boulevard. Producers fired Dunaway during rehearsals, claiming she was unable to meet the vocal demands of the role. Dunaway sued for damage to her reputation, with the legal action concluding in an undisclosed settlement.

The announcement of Dunaway's Broadway return comes on opening day of Network, the stage adaptation of the 1976 Sidney Lumet film that earned her a best actress Oscar. Dunaway's role of ruthlessly ambitious television programming executive Diana Christensen is played in the new version by Tatiana Maslany, starring opposite Bryan Cranston and Tony Goldwyn.

The full creative team for Tea at Five will be announced in the coming weeks.

— Updated Feb. 4 with details of Boston engagement and new Broadway timeline.