Lyceum Theatre, (3/14/2010 - 4/11/2010)

First Preview: Feb 19, 2010
Opening Date: Mar 14, 2010
Closing Date: Apr 11, 2010
Total Previews: 27
Total Performances: 33

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: A Recording Studio. Los Angeles, California. Summer 1965.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Tony Cacciotti, Chase Mishkin, Bard Theatricals, Lauren Class Schneider, Lawrence S. Toppall and Leonard Soloway; Associate Producer: Barbara Freitag and David Mirvish

World Premiere produced at Pasadena Playhouse (Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director; Brian Colburn, Managing Director; Tom Ware, Producing Director)

Written by Matthew Lombardo

Directed by Rob Ruggiero; Assistant Director: Nick Eilerman

Scenic Design by Adrian W. Jones; Costume Design by William Ivey Long; Lighting Design by Ken Billington; Sound Design by Michael Hooker and Peter Fitzgerald; Wig Design by Charles LaPointe; Assistant Lighting Design: Anthony Pearson

General Manager: Leonard Soloway; Company Manager: Judith Drasner

Production Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi and Patrick Sullivan; Production Stage Manager: Bess Marie Glorioso; Stage Manager: Ana M. Garcia

Casting: Jay Binder; General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Marketing: HHC Marketing; Advertising: The Eliran Murphy Group, Ltd.; Photographer: Carol Rosegg

Opening Night Cast

Valerie HarperTallulah Bankhead
Brian HutchisonDanny
Michael MulherenSteve

Understudies: Timothy Altmeyer (Danny, Steve) and Glynis Bell (Tallulah Bankhead)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2010 Best Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Valerie Harper


AP: "It's Tallulah, Dahling, through Harper on Broadway"

Wearing a full-length fur coat, a long blue scarf, a chic violet dress and sunglasses, she staggers into a recording studio. Four-letter words fly. And so do the laughs. But then, what did you expect?

Tallulah Bankhead always knew how to make an entrance. And so does Valerie Harper, who plays the flamboyant actress in "Looped," a fictional recreation of one of Bankhead's less celebrated moments - the re-recording of some botched dialogue from her last film, a campy 1965 horror fest called "Die! Die! My Darling!"

Out of this real-life misadventure, playwright Matthew Lombardo has fashioned a frequently funny but at times labored little play, which opened Sunday at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre. Not really a one-woman show, the comedy is more of a battle between Bankhead and an agitated film editor named Danny (Brian Hutchison), who's forced to supervise the re-looping.

Between their verbal fisticuffs, bits and pieces of Bankhead's life emerge. These details are accompanied by some choice bits of Bankhead repartee, mostly of the naughty variety, especially after the lady has had a little scotch (actually, a lot of scotch) and done a little coke.

In portraying Bankhead, Harper effectively submerges the iconic Rhoda Morgenstern, her character from television's "Rhoda" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Here, her voice is gravelly and coal-mine deep. And she has a ferocious sense of comic timing that punches up the sexual one-liners Lombardo sprinkles throughout the play.

Harper even looks a bit like Bankhead, only prettier, thanks to the stylish costume designs of William Ivey Long and the wig artistry of Charles LaPointe. Bankhead, who died in 1968, was a personality, and despite a few good stage roles - in "The Little Foxes" and "The Skin of Our Teeth" - and one classic movie - Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" - she is more remembered today for her outrageousness than her acting talent.

"Looped," directed by Rob Ruggiero with a referee's skill, doesn't probe too deeply into why Bankhead's problematic show-biz career never realized its full potential. The closest it comes to any sort of soul-searching is Bankhead's regretful ruminations about playing the emotionally fragile Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." She did tackle the role at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida in the 1950s, apparently with disastrous results.

But the play goes off track when it switches focus to the distraught film editor. Bankhead becomes an amateur therapist, urging the younger man to live his life to the fullest - and hang the consequences. Sort of like what she did. Yet the editor's soapy revelations feel forced, manufactured and overly sentimental, a quality Bankhead certainly would disparage.

There is a third character in "Looped," too, a sound engineer who sits in a booth above the action and looks down on the brouhaha below. The reliable Michael Mulheren brings a much needed steadiness to the often volatile proceedings.

Other actresses have tried to capture Bankhead on stage in the past. Kathleen Turner. Tovah Feldshuh. In the early 1980s, Helen Gallagher even starred in an off-Broadway musical about the star. Yet the woman behind the personality still remains elusive. Maybe her own life was too big - or complicated - for an evening of theater.


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