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Ironing Out The Kinks In "Looped"
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March 11, 2013
In the Hippodrome's production of "Looped," Stefanie Powers stars as the pill-popping, foul-mouthed, bourbon-guzzling Tallulah Bankhead. Bankhead-and her antics-shocked the public in her heyday. Her behavior shows up some of today's most misbehaving celebrities, but judging by her resume, the stage and screen actress did work.
Powers actually starred with Bankhead in the 1965 thriller "Die! Die! My Darling!" but Rousuck says while Powers' voice has the same timbre as Bankhead's husk, "its vibrato sounds more like Katharine Hepburn."
The plot also focuses on voice, as the whole reason why Tallulah is in a Hollywood recording studio is to re-record or "loop" a piece of flubbed dialogue in the film.
Several hours into the session, the line hasn't been looped, but Bankhead is. Despite Danny, the film's editor and Steve, the sound engineer's efforts, the numerous drinks and pills have taken a toll on the star. Rousuck says the two-hour running time of "Looped," also takes a toll on the audience.
"The engineer and editor's exasperation with Tallulah quickly becomes our exasperation with the play."
Valerie Harper, 73, originally starred in "Looped." The actress, most known for her role as Rhoda Morhenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the spin-off "Rhoda," earned a Tony nomination in 2010 for her performance as Tallulah. Harper withdrew from the play's national tour, and revealed only a few days ago that she has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
J. Wynn Rousuck on Tallulah Bankhead's Maryland connection
"Tallulah Bankhead died in 1968, three years after "Looped" takes place. She is buried in St. Paul's Churchyard in Chestertown, Maryland. She was the daughter of an Alabama congressman (who became Speaker of the House) and the granddaughter of a United States senator. Her grave -- which I have visited -- is next to that of her sister, Eugenia, who had lived nearby." -J. Wynn Rousuck.
"Looped" continues at the Hippodrome until March 17.
by Matthew Lombardo
directed by Rob Ruggiero
Tallulah Bankhead....Stefanie Powers