Valerie Harper Pulls Out of Looped Tour; Stefanie Powers Will Play Tallulah Bankhead

News   Valerie Harper Pulls Out of Looped Tour; Stefanie Powers Will Play Tallulah Bankhead
An ailing Valerie Harper has stepped down from the national tour of Looped, Matthew Lombardo's Broadway comedy for which she was a 2010 Best Actress Tony Award nominee, to be replaced by Stefanie Powers in the role of Tallulah Bankhead.

Brian Hutchison and Valerie Harper
Brian Hutchison and Valerie Harper Photo by Carol Rosegg

According to a Jan. 28 statement from the producers, doctors have advised four-time Emmy Award winner Harper, best known for playing TV's Rhoda," to take an immediate medical leave after having recently been hospitalized during rehearsals for the national tour of Looped. Harper recently wrote about her experience with lung cancer in her new memoir, "I, Rhoda."

Harper has flown back to Los Angeles with her husband Tony Cacciotti where she will receive continuing treatment and medical care. Emmy Award nominee Powers — who played Bankhead's daughter in the film that inspired the events of Looped — will launch the tour Feb. 26 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The national tour also features Brian Hutchison (recreating his Broadway turn as sound editor Danny Miller) and Matthew Montelongo (playing Steve, a sound technician).

"It is with deep sadness and regret that I will be unable to honor my commitment to the tour of Looped," Harper said in statement. "This play has been such a gift and it was my hope and intention to play this role again in the upcoming tour. But given my doctor's recent recommendations, I must now put all my energy into getting well and renewing my strength."

She added, "Stefanie is the perfect choice to take over this role. She is extraordinarily talented and will make one terrific Tallulah! I have called to give her my blessing and I urge everyone to go out and see this hysterically funny play and support Stefanie's participation."

Stefanie Powers

Looped — about the encounter between a late-career Tallulah Bankhead and a sound editor who is overseeing her recording of a line of dialogue for the film "Die, Die, My Darling" — is again directed by Rob Ruggiero. Powers co-starred in that 1965 motion picture, playing Bankhead's daughter. During production, Bankhead had trouble re-recording the infamous line, "And so Patricia, as I was telling you, that deluded rector has in literal effect closed the church to me," which sparks the play. Powers is best known for starring in the television series "Hart to Hart" with Robert Wagner and received two Emmy Award and five Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. She starred in Paper Mill Playhouse's revival of Applause, which also toured. She also starred in TV's "The Girl From UNCLE," penned the memoir "One From the Hart," acted in the West End productions of Matador, The King and I and Love Letters (the latter, with "Hart to Hart" co-star Robert Wagner, also toured the U.S.). She has appeared on many stages throughout the country.

The Looped tour launches in Fort Lauderdale at The Parker Playhouse (Feb. 26-March 3) followed by Baltimore's The Hippodrome Theatre (March 5-17), Boston's Majestic Theatre (April 30-May 5) and Hartford's The Bushnell (May 7-12). More cities will be announced for summer and fall 2013.

Playwright Lombardo also penned Broadway's High and Off-Broadway's Tea at Five.

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