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Amas Musical Theatre Presents "Tea for Three", Starring Elaine Bromka at The Theatre at 30th Street
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Amas Musical Theatre Presents "Tea for Three", Starring Elaine Bromka at The Theatre at 30th Street

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Amas Musical Theatre
Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Producer
Presents:

Tea for Three
(Tea for Three Website)

By Eric H. Weinberger with Elaine Bromka

Directed by Byam Stevens

At
The Theatre at 30th Street
(Theatre at 30th St. Web Page)
259 West 30th Street
NY, NY
212.868.4444
:
Starring:
Elaine Bromka

Set Coordinator: Matt Kaprielian
Lighting Design: Meghan Santelli
Costume Design: Bunny Mateosian, Patricia Carucci
Sound Design: Rory Breshears
Wig Design: Robert E. McLaughlin
Production Stage Manager: Laura Lindsay
Marketing: Red Rising Marketing
Publicity: Joe Trentacosta, Springer Associates PR

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 3, 2013


Elaine Bromka, a veteran television, film, and stage actress, has created, with Eric Weinberger, Tea for Three, a trilogy of one-woman vignettes of three former American First Ladies. Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford come to life for 80 minutes or so, in this intermission-less production, that has only two, three-minute pauses, for Ms. Bromka to change wig, costume, props, and persona. Matt Kaprielian’s stage set, within the White House, moves a coffee table here, a silver teapot there, books, flowers, a lamp, but it’s Ms. Bromka’s scintillating, outsized personality and remarkable ability to transform, in the moment, morphing her Texan accent to one derived from California, then Michigan. The three vignettes of monologue, unassisted by videos or recorded clips, take place in 1968, 1974, and 1976, at the end of their First Lady “careers”. These were the days before a First Lady would run, on her own, for political office, although Ms. Bromka’s Betty Ford illustrated a lifestyle shift toward independent speeches, women’s rights (in their nascent stage), and public awareness of prescription drug and alcohol dependency, of abortion rights, of breast cancer screening.

Ms. Bromka’s Lady Bird Johnson was endearing, with a cognac-y Southern drawl, a voice that welcomes the visitor to sit and sip tea. The psychological portrait here was a woman who repressed her own need for loyalty and intimacy with her husband, Lyndon, who was renowned for his temper and roving eye. Lady Bird shares her deliberate decision to absorb her sense of self into her husband’s neediness, as she identifies with his reported angst over the Kennedy assassination that took place in his home state. There’s talk of Jackie and that fateful day, but all ears are open for Lady Bird’s poignant memories, her obsession with gardens and nature, and her hurt on being scolded or insulted by the less classy Lyndon. There’s much talk of Vietnam, as well, and the hordes of peace marchers and their deafening chants.

Lady Bird sets the stage for Pat Nixon, who truly seems portrayed by a new actress, the switch is so successful. Pat’s husband, Dick, has been wounded by friends and enemies, and a bit by himself, as it’s told, and Pat takes on the cause of his legacy, before they walk to the helicopter that historical last day of their Presidency. Pat has been memorialized as an elusive First Lady, one who was bottled up, a paper doll without the glamour. But, Ms. Bromka thoughtfully brought her to life with her inherent loneliness and embarrassment at the Watergate fiasco. She illustrates Pat’s helplessness, her outsider status, the victim of it all, the woman at the right place but the wrong time. In between the characters’ audience asides, personality gestures, confidential opinions, there were also pauses, as the character thinks, and the audience guesses that thought. Ms. Bromka pulled it all off splendidly.

In 1976, when Pat and Dick walk up the stairs to that helicopter door, Betty Ford refurbishes the brand, in amazing contrast. Betty took pain relievers for arthritis, and became dependent on those drugs. She also loved her drinks, dancing, and having a fun time. There was no loneliness here, as Jerry and Betty are the closest duo of lovers I recall, living in the White House. This was an unelected, unintended Presidency, and they both rolled with the waves, including Jerry’s pardon of Dick, who escaped being tried on the crimes that threw his staff into prison. The conflicted thinking that brought Jerry to that pardon became a thread in the final vignette. Also revealed was Betty’s public discussion about her breast cancer, her public discussion about addiction, her public adoration of Jerry, and her very public speeches and comments to press and audiences, including the topic of abortion. This First Lady was transparently a survivor, a role model for women across the nation. When Jimmy Carter won the ’76 election, this was not a grieving spouse. Betty, au contraire, was poised to make history in her own right. Had that moment been 40 years later, she may have run for office and won handily. Her activist nature was compellingly portrayed by an energized Ms. Bromka tonight. Kudos to Amas Musical Theatre for this show.

A lovely Opening Night After-Party was held at Zuni restaurant, on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, see photos below.



Elaine Bromka as Lady Bird Johnson
in Amas Musical Theatre's "Tea for Three"
Courtesy of Ron Marietta




Elaine Bromka as Pat Nixon
in Amas Musical Theatre's "Tea for Three"
Courtesy of Ron Marietta




Elaine Bromka as Betty Ford
in Amas Musical Theatre's "Tea for Three"
Courtesy of Ron Marietta




Joe Trentacosta, Publicist, at Leisure
at "Tea for Three" After-Party at Zuni
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Patrick and Tony, Zuni Bartenders
at "Tea for Three" After-Party at Zuni
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Roland, Zuni Proprietor, at Leisure
at "Tea for Three" After-Party at Zuni
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower




Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Producer
Eric H. Weinberger, Co-Writer
Elaine Bromka, Actor and Co-Writer
at "Tea for Three" After-Party at Zuni
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net