Valerie Harper Gives Voice to Tallulah in DC Run of Looped, Aiming for NYC

News   Valerie Harper Gives Voice to Tallulah in DC Run of Looped, Aiming for NYC
Looped, the Broadway-aimed biographical play starring Emmy Award winner Valerie Harper as aging actress Tallulah Bankhead, who spars with a movie sound editor in a studio, opens June 4 in an Arena Stage engagement that began May 29 in Washington, DC.
Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped
Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped Photo by Scott Suchman

Jay Goede (A Year With Frog and Toad, Angels in America) also stars in director Rob Ruggiero's production of the play by Matthew Lombardo (Tea at Five). The Arena run at the Lincoln Theatre (a borrowed space while Arena completes construction on its new home) is in association with Tony Cacciotti and David Steiner. No Broadway dates have been announced.

The DC run continues to June 28.

According to Arena notes, Looped "tells the story of actress Tallulah Bankhead, the original celebrity bad girl, who stumbles into a film studio session to re-record (or 'loop') one line of dialogue for her final film, 'Die, Die My Darling.' What ensues is a showdown between an uptight sound editor, Danny Miller, and the outrageous legend. Southern, but by no means a belle, Ms. Bankhead was known for her wild partying that out-shone even today's superstars, including innumerable affairs with both male and female celebrities and outlandish exploits that were even investigated by the British secret service."


Looped made its world premiere in summer 2008 at Pasadena Playhouse and later played Cuillo Centre for the Arts in Florida. Since the Cuillo run, Lombardo has continued to rework the script for the Arena production. The company of Looped had three weeks of rehearsals to incorporate changes at Hartford Stage in Connecticut before finishing rehearsals at the Lincoln Theatre in DC. Harper (Tallulah Bankhead) is a four-time Emmy Award winner famous for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the spin-off series, "Rhoda." In 2000, she reprised the role of Rhoda Morgenstern (along with Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards) in the ABC television movie "Mary and Rhoda," which attracted nearly 18 million viewers. She performed with various companies of Second City and Story Theatre in many venues all over the country and in Canada. In 1970 she was a member of the original stage production of Story Theater in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum and on Broadway. During the run at the Ambassador Theater, Paul Sills opened his second production: Ovid's Metamorphoses, also featuring Harper, to run in repertory with Story Theater. In the mid-1970s she played Los Angeles' James Doolittle Theatre and later toured in Dear Liar with Anthony Zerbe. She and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, began developing a one-woman play based on the life and work of Pearl S. Buck, the Nobel Prize-winning author of, among many works, "The Good Earth." She co-wrote and performed that play All Under Heaven (directed by Ruggiero) in New York (1999), in Los Angeles (2000) and across the country. In 2001 Harper was back on Broadway starring in Charles Busch's comedy The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. She played "the Wife" (Marjorie Taub) for a year on Broadway and then for another year in the national tour. Having completed her cross-country tour of Golda's Balcony, Harper is continuing as Golda Meir for the film version of William Gibson's play.

Director Ruggiero is known for co-creating and directing the regional hit Ella, a bio-play about Ella Fitzgerald. He staged the previous regional productions of Looped. He also conceived and directed the regional and Off-Broadway show Make Me a Song: the Music of William Finn.

Goede (playing Danny Miller) appeared on Broadway in Angels in America; Sex and Longing; The Play's the Thing; and as Frog in A Year with Frog and Toad.

Michael Karl Orenstein (Steve) originated the role of Steve for the Looped world premiere at Pasadena Playhouse and was also in the Cuillo Centre production.

The creative team for Looped includes set designer Adrian W. Jones, costume designer William Ivey Long, assistant costume designers Cathy Parrott and Donald Sanders, wig designer Charles LaPointe, lighting designer Michael Gilliam, sound designer Michael Hooker, stage manager Amber Dickerson, Hartford assistant stage manager Scott Pomerico, Arena assistant stage manager Kurt Hall, production dramaturg Janine Sobeck, assistant director Nick Eilerman, D'Nesstah Fields and hair/makeup designer Amanda Mitchell.

For ticket information call (202) 488-3300 or visit

Valerie Harper and Jay Goede in <i>Looped</i>
Valerie Harper and Jay Goede in Looped Photo by Scott Suchman
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