Emmy Award winner Valerie Harper has pulled out of the national tour of Looped, due to illness. After being hospitalized during rehearsals, Harper’s doctors have advised that she take a medical leave of absence from reprising her Tony-nominated role as Tallulah Bankhead. Harper will be replaced by Stefanie Powers, who played the fiancee of Bankhead’s son in Die! Die! My Darling!, the film that inspired the events of the play. The Looped national tour will kick off at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse on February 26.
“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.”
Harper endorsed Powers as her replacement, stating, “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.”
Set in the summer of 1965, Looped follows an aging and intoxicated Tallulah Bankhead as she attempts to re-record one line of dialogue for her final film, Die! Die! My Darling! The ordeal takes eight hours as Bankhead spars with Danny Miller (Brian Hutchison), a no-nonsense film editor, during the dubbing session. The tour also features Matthew Montelongo as Steve.
Looped originally premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in California, starring Harper. The show opened at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre on March 14, 2010, where it played 25 performances before closing on April 11.
Powers is an Emmy-nominated actress, best known for her role as Jennifer Hart in the TV series Hart to Hart. She has appeared in London’s West End in Matador, The King and I and Love Letters. Harper earned four Emmy awards for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on TV’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda and Mary and Rhoda. On Broadway, Harper has appeared in Take Me Along, Wildcat, Subways Are For Sleeping, Something Different, Paul Sills’ Story Theatre, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Hutchison’s Broadway credits include The Invention of Love, Exit the King and Proof. His film and TV credits include Ghost Town, Love and Other Drugs, Sudden Death and Do No Harm.
The Looped national tour will play Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre from March 5 through 17. The tour will also stop in Hartford, where it was originally scheduled to launch before Harper’s hospitalization, from May 7 through 12.