Actress Elaine Bromka Stirs Tea for Three as Johnson, Nixon, and Ford
Three former First Ladies will be sharing secrets in the one-woman show, Lady Bird, Pat & Betty: Tea for Three. Starring Emmy Award-winning actress Elaine Bromka, the production plays the Rollins Studio Theatre at The Long Center from March 9th through
"With all our political tendencies and reverence for Lady Bird Johnson in this city, Tea for Three is a fantastic play for Austinites," said Cliff Redd, Executive Director for The Long Center." "Ms. Bromka's talent provides a rare chance to see such a touching, funny, and intimate portrait of these three fine first ladies."
Written by Eric H. Weinberger with Bromka, the play offers an intimate re-imagining of three women who suddenly found themselves celebrities. The behind-the-scenes look at Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford reveals the personal cost of what Mrs. Nixon called the "hardest unpaid job in the world."
The inspiration for Tea for Three came after Bromka starred opposite Rich Little in The Presidents, which she performed across the country and on PBS. Called upon to impersonate eight of the most recent First Ladies, she spent months pouring through videotapes of the women - studying nuances of their body language and speech patterns to explore psychologically why they moved and spoke as they did.
"These were women of intelligence and grit who suddenly found themselves in a fishbowl," Bromka said. "I realized I wanted to tell the story from their point of view."
"And I wanted to explode myths," she elaborated. "Pat was called 'Plastic Pat' in the press, because she was always smiling. Look more closely at her eyes, though, and 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 - authored 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.
Currently touring the country and directed by Byam Stevens, Lady Bird, Pat & Better: Tea for Three plays the Rollins Theatre at The Long Center from March 9th through 14th at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19 to $54.
The Long Center is located at 701 Riverside Drive, on the corner of Riverside and South 1st Street. For tickets and more information, call (512) 474-LONG (5664) or visit www.TheLongCenter.org.
(Photos by Ron Marotta; clockwise from top, Elaine Bromka as:
- Lady Bird Johnson,
- Betty Ford,
- Pat Nixon,
- Betty Ford.)
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