Queen Katharine

A locally produced, nationally performed portrayal of Katharine Hepburn premieres on Zoom May 26-28.

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted May 18, 2023 | By Julie Garisto

Marty Van Kleeck plays Katharine Hepburn in Unboxed Productions’ “Tea at Five,” premiering May 26.

Stoic, but surprisingly passionate, a pants-wearing feminist ahead of her time, 20th-century screen legend Katharine Hepburn comes back to life on computer screens across the nation, and, perhaps, around the world, at the end of this month.

Local theater company Unboxed Productions (UP) will present the one-woman staged reading starring Marty Van Kleeck as the Academy Award-winning star via Zoom on May 26-28.

The poignant play provides an intimate glimpse into Hepburn’s life, recounted from her Fenwick estate in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

In the play, we hear tales about “The African Queen,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “The Lion in Winter.” We also learn about the not-so-fairy-tale romance between Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

The premiere of “Tea at Five” originally starred Kate Mulgrew of “Star Trek” fame and later Faye Dunaway in a highly anticipated return to Broadway.

Prolific stage and screen actor Van Kleeck takes on the role of great Kate and takes the audience on what UP co-founder and artistic director Kim Lynette Sandstrom calls “a spellbinding and jaw-dropping ride through the roller coaster” of Hepburn’s life. 

“If you thought you knew Miss Hepburn, be prepared for lots of surprises in ‘Tea at Five,’” Sandstrom professed.

Van Kleeck has appeared onstage and onscreen in “Honk” (2022), “The Sirens” (2012) and “Ghost Lab” (2009).

“She’s a fabulous actress,” UP director Jan Thomas said of Van Kleeck. “She’s done so many things before, so she knows exactly what to do. I’m not so much really directing her as much as I am working with her, and we are both working to find some of the little comedic bits and the best ways to work with the lines.”

Sandstrom said Thomas was being too humble. 

“Jan has broken down scene by scene. I’ve been in rehearsals, and the nuances, the small details that they are finding … it is gonna be as though they’re sitting in the room with Katherine Hepburn and having private time with her. It’s quite amazing,” Sandstrom offered.

The reading marks the beginning of Unboxed Productions’ third season of producing plays streaming live online. The company grew out of the need to continue live theater during the pandemic and continues the opportunity for theater lovers to enjoy a theatrical experience from the comfort of their homes. 

Past UP plays include “Erma Bombeck,” “Tea for Three,” “Unboxing in Biloxi” and “How We Faced the Horsemen.”

It’s a nationwide, women-led effort. Van Kleeck hails from Texas. Thomas, a UP board member and friend of Sandstrom since childhood, is based in Indianapolis. Diana Grogg, also an Unboxed board member, manages tech and sound from California. 

Marketing is handled by Sandstrom, who co-founded the company with Susan Ergle, of Ocala’s Saints on Stage. Local actor and UP board member Rita Singer and board members Teri Schwartz of Ocala and Lee Tilson of Detroit also lend support.

“Linkets,” or ticketed Zoom links, are on sale for $15 through unboxed.productions. 

Links can also be purchased by mailing a check to Unboxed Productions, PO Box 351, Belleview, FL 34420, along with your email address.

A portion of the proceeds will be going to the Saints on Stage Drama Department of St. John Lutheran School, Ocala. 

“Tea at Five” can be seen live via Zoom at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 26-28. For more information, email kimlynette@aol.com or call (325) 875-5484.

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