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Tea for Three: Lady Bird, Pat & Betty

a One Woman Show
by Eric H. Weinberger, with Elaine Bromka

COMPANY : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4632

SHOWING : September 25, 2014 - September 28, 2014



Written by Eric H. Weinberger with Elaine Bromka, and starring the Emmy Award-winning Ms. Bromka, this one-woman show is a witty and intimate re-imagining of three women who suddenly found themselves celebrities -- a behind-the-scenes look at Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford, revealing the personal cost of what Mrs. Nixon called the "hardest unpaid job in the world."

Weaving in the presidents, social change and politics of the time in a way that appeals to both male and female audiences, "Tea for Three" has been critically acclaimed for its blend of humor and passion. The New York Times observed, "Good stories…subtle…even silences are filled with emotion." Other reviewers agreed: "6 out of 5 stars!" (, Austin, TX), "marvelous, poignant" (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.), "fascinating…laced with insight and humor… brilliant acting" (The Record-Review, Katonah, NY), "Perfect. I felt honored, as a man, to be allowed to share this" (KDHX, St Louis, MO) The Daily Record, NJ pronounced, "Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative – and even if you do not like politics – Tea for Three is worth seeing."

Ms. Bromka has over thirty years’ experience in film, television, Broadway, and off-Broadway. She appeared as the mom in "Uncle Buck" with John Candy, as Stella on "Days of our Lives," and on "E.R.," "The Sopranos," and "Law and Order."

The inspiration for "Tea for Three" came about when Bromka starred opposite Rich Little in "The Presidents," which she performed across the country and on PBS. Called upon to impersonate eight First Ladies, she ended up spending months poring over videotapes of the women. Studying nuances of their body language and speech patterns to explore psychologically why they moved and spoke as they did, she became more and more drawn in by their personalities.

"These were women of intelligence and grit who suddenly found themselves in a fishbowl," Bromka observed. "I realized I wanted to tell the story from their point of view."

"And I wanted to explode myths. Pat was called ‘Plastic Pat’ in the press, for example, because she was always smiling. Look more closely at her eyes, though. There’s nothing plastic about her. You see the eyes of a private, watchful survivor."

Her collaborator, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominee Weinberger, is the author of several off-Broadway plays, including "Wanda’s World" and "Class Mothers ’68." He and Bromka zeroed in on the three women, linking their stories by revealing each one at the threshold moment of the end of her time in the White House.

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Three for Three
by playgoer
Sunday, September 28, 2014
"Tea for Three" provides three vignettes of first ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford on their final day in office. They talk directly to the audience, sharing memories of their transitions to the office, their experiences in the office, and their backgrounds. The tones vary, with hints of comedy and pathos in various mixtures. The script makes sure that interest never lags, and Elaine Bromka’s performances astonish. She alters accents, mannerisms, wigs, and dresses as each of the first ladies, making each woman a sharply etched, memorable individual.

This touring production is handsomely appointed, with a set consisting of three table/chair groupings, a scarlet-draped doorway, a hall tree, and empty picture frames. The furniture is elegant, varying in configuration from vignette to vignette. The props too are appropriate, and the costumes by Pat Carucci and Bunny Mateosian and the wigs by Robert F. McLaughlin allow startlingly spot-on transitions from character to character. Only the sound design of Rory Breshears disappoints, with muddy musical introductions to the three scenes. Scene-changing music, however, is just fine.

It’s hard to tell how much credit Byam Stevens deserves for directing this one-woman show. Elaine Bromka is so amazing and natural in her impersonations that his contributions may have been primarily in shading of the disparate moments in the vignettes. In any case, he and Ms. Bromka, together with playwright Eric H. Weinberger, have created a thoroughly entertaining evening (or afternoon) of theatrical magic. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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