Valerie Harper, best known as TV's "Rhoda," is recreating her one-woman show, The Dragon and the Pearl, at Hartford, CT's TheatreWorks, July 25-Aug. 31. The official press opening is tonight, Aug. 1.
Harper impersonates The Good Earth author Pearl S. Buck in Mary Martin's one-woman show. Harper originated the role in a July 1996 workshop production at American Stage Festival in Milford, NH.
After the Hartford staging, the show is scheduled for an open run at Off Broadway's Lamb's Theatre, beginning the second week of September, prior to a North American tour. Harper also developed the show at Chicago's Organic Theatre.
Harper has received four Emmy Awards for her work in television, has appeared on Broadway and in films, and most recently replaced Linda Lavin in Off-Broadway's Death Defying Acts. Like Buck, Harper devotes much of her time to charity. She is closely involved with The Hunger Project, an organization with the mission of ending world hunger by the turn of the century.
Buck was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature and the author of more than 70 books, including The Good Earth, which won a Pulitzer Prize. According to an AP report, Buck died in 1973 at age 80. Characters in Buck's life represented onstage include a Chinese governess, a Chinese empress and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Said Harper of Buck, "She's such a wonderful and practical visionary. She totally knows the human heart."
Though Pamela Berlin directed the New Hampshire workshop, Rob Ruggiero, associate artist director at the TheaterWorks, is staging the upcoming production. Producer Tony Cacciotti commissioned the work for Harper -- his real-life wife.