Faye Dunaway has been fired from the solo-woman, Broadway-bound play, Tea At Five. Producers Ben Feldman and Scott Beck told Deadline they have terminated their relationship with the 78-year-old Oscar-winning actress, and that “plans are in development” for the play to instead have a London debut early next year with a new actress in the lead role.
Dunaway was set to star as Katharine Hepburn in the revival of Matthew Lombardo’s play about the actress who previously beat out Dunaway for her first shot at an Oscar in 1968. The show, which had originally been planned to hit Broadway sometime this year, would have marked Dunaway’s first return to Broadway after a nearly 40-year absence.
While Feldman and Scott did not elaborate on the reason for Dunaway’s removal from the show, several sources told The New York Post that the star was fired from the Broadway-bound play for allegedly creating a “hostile” and “dangerous” environment backstage that left production members fearing for their safety. The insider compared the notoriously difficult Dunaway’s real-life persona as less Katharine Hepburn and more Joan Crawford, the abusive film legend Dunaway played in the 1981 movie Mommie Dearest.
Sources told The Post that ahead of a scheduled performance at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, where the play was trying out, Dunaway allegedly slapped and threw items at a crew member who was trying to put on her wig. The show was canceled moments before curtain time, and a furious Dunaway reportedly began “verbally abusing” the crew and left them “fearful for their safety.”
Dunaway had reportedly also demanded that staff members at the Huntington Theatre get down on their hands and knees and scrub the floor of her dressing room. She also allegedly threw mirrors, combs and hairpins at the theater staffers during a tantrum about her wig.
Dunaway, who was previously fired by Andrew Lloyd Webber before she was to open in the Los Angeles production of Sunset Boulevard in 1994, had reportedly been looking forward to playing Hepburn and was “committed” to the role. But insiders said the star’s backstage antics and diva-like behavior were cause for concern. At an early photo shoot for the show, Dunaway reportedly threw a salad given to her for lunch on the floor because she was dieting and didn’t want to eat. Dunaway was also said to be frequently up to two-hours late for rehearsals.
When she did show up, sources also claim that Dunaway refused to allow anyone to look at her during rehearsals, including the director and the playwright, and that she was unable to learn the script, so instead she was fed all of her lines through an earpiece during the show’s Huntington run.
Dunaway also allegedly left “troubling, rambling, angry” voicemails to the creative team, and her emaciated state due to extreme weight loss alarmed producers so much that a call was placed to her former assistant, who noted that it sounded like the actress was “not complying with her medication.”
Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in the William Alfred play The Curse of an Aching Heart, which closed after less than a month in the winter of 1982.
Faye Dunaway is currently traveling in Europe. She has not responded to the allegations about her behavior.