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Valerie Harper to Star as Tallulah Bankhead with Jarrod Emick in Pre-Broadway Tryout of 'Looped'

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Four Time Emmy Award winning actress Valerie Harper stars as Tallulah Bankhead in the Pre-Broadway Engagement of Looped , a new comedy by Matthew Lombardo and directed by Rob Ruggiero. The production (direct from its sold out World Premiere at The Pasadena Playhouse) arrives at The Cuillo Centre for the Arts, prior to a Broadway bow in Summer 2009. Tony Award winning actor Jarrod Emick co-stars.

Looped tells the story of actress Tallulah Bankhead, the original celebrity bad girl who enters 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 and the outrageous legend.

Southern, but by no means a belle, Ms. Bankhead was known for her wild partying that rivaled even today's superstars, including innumerable affairs with both male and female celebrities and outlandish exploits that were too scandalous to mention. Relish in the outrageously naughty wit of this sultry-voiced stage and film star!

"The wildly enthusiastic response of Cuillo Centre's audiences to Tea at Five a couple of seasons ago gives me tremendous excitement about presenting the Pre-Broadway Engagement of Matthew's new play," said Bob Cuillo, Producer and Chief Executive Officer. "We have been following the development of this play for some time and are beyond excited to have the phenomenal Valerie Harper making her Cuillo Centre for the Arts debut!"

Joining the creative team with Lombardo and Ruggiero are Adrian W. Jones (scenic design), Alex Jaeger (costume design), Michael Gilliam (lighting design), Michael Hooker (sound design), and Charles LaPointe (hair and wig design).

LOOPED is being produced by Tony Cacciotti and David Steiner in association with Bob Cuillo.

LOOPED plays at the Cuillo Centre for the Arts, 201 Clematis, West Palm Beach. Performances begin December 31 and play through February 15, with the official press opening on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. Performance schedule is Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8PM; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2PM; Sundays at 6PM. Schedule notes: There is no matinee performance on Wednesday, December 31. Tickets range from $45.00 - $55.00. Tickets are available by calling the Cuillo Centre at 561-835-9226 or by visiting the Cuillo Centre Box Office. www.cuillocentre.org

BIOGRAPHIES:

Valerie Harper (Tallulah Bankhead) Four-time Emmy Award-winner Valerie Harper achieved fame as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the spin-off series Rhoda. During her nine years as the character "Rhoda," she was the recipient of a Golden Globe Award, Harvard University Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award, Hollywood Women's Press Club "Golden Apple" Award, and a Photoplay Gold Medal Award. In 2000, Valerie 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. In 1987 she was seen as "Valerie Hogan" in the then-titled NBC series Valerie (later The Hogan Family) and also starred in the 1990 CBS series City and in the 1994 CBS series The Office. She has appeared as a special guest star on various television series. Throughout her career, Valerie has continued to work in the theatre. 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 opened with the show in New York when it moved to Broadway. During the run at the Ambassador Theater, Paul Sills opened his second production: Ovid's Metamorphoses (also to rave reviews) to run in repertory with Story Theater. Most happily, Valerie was a part of this joyous theatrical experience as well. In the mid-seventies, she played Los Angeles' James Doolittle Theatre and later toured in Dear Liar with Anthony Zerbe (a play comprised of a lifetime of letters between George Bernard Shaw and the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell.) In 1983 she toured Florida with Zev Bufman's production of Agnes of God playing The Psychiatrist. In the mid-nineties Valerie starred in the New York production of Death Defying Acts by Elaine May and Woody Allen. At this time, Valerie 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. Valerie co-wrote and performed the play All Under Heaven in New York (1999), in Los Angeles (2000) and across the country. In 2001 Valerie was back on Broadway starring in Charles Busch's hilarious 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, Valerie is continuing as Golda Meir for the film version of William Gibson's play. (A full bio is available upon request.)

Jarrod Emick (Danny Miller) has appeared in multiple Broadway productions including Ring of Fire, The Boy From Oz (opposite Hugh Jackman) The Rocky Horror Show, Miss Saigon (Chris); Les Misérables (Enjolras) and Damn Yankees, for which he won the 1994 Tony, Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards. He has also appeared across the Atlantic as "Jerry" in London's West End version of The Full Monty at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Television audiences will most likely recognize Mr. Emick for his work on "L.A. Firefighters" (FOX), "Andersonville" (TNT), and "Pacific Palisades" (FOX).

MATTHEW LOMBARDO (Playwright) returns to the Cuillo Centre after having had enjoyed a four month run of Tea at Five starring Kate Mulgrew three years earlier. That production, which earned Mr. Lombardo the 2002 IRNE Award for Best Solo Play, had its World Premiere at Hartford Stage followed by a successful run Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre. The play continues to tour the country, having played well over 1000 performances nationwide and has just debuted internationally with a Finnish speaking production in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Lombardo's other Off-Broadway credits include directing the hit comedy End Of The World Party by Chuck Ranberg at the 47th Street Theatre; Mother and Child at Second Stage Theatre; and Guilty Innocence at The Actors' Playhouse, serving the latter two productions as both Playwright and Director. Regionally, he has directed the 20th Anniversary production of Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy at the American Stage Company and the West Coast Premiere of Mother and Child starring Tony Award-winning actress Ann Wedgeworth at the Coast Playhouse. Having written for the television series Another World, Mr. Lombardo garnered a 1993 Writer's Guild Award Nomination for Outstanding Achievement. Other plays include The Kennel Club, House of Atreus, Trolls, and he is currently writing a new drama entitled High.

Rob Ruggiero (Director) In addition to Mr. Ruggiero's freelance work, he is the Associate Artistic Director of TheaterWorks in Hartford, Connecticut where he has been a key partner in its Artistic Partnership since 1992. Recent projects at TheaterWorks include a production of The Little Dog Laughed (starring Chad Allen) and conceiving and directing an original musical revue entitled Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn, which had a successful run off-Broadway last year as well as a recent London production. The production received nominations for both the Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Review" and the Outer Critics Circle Award for "Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical." His work was first seen Off-Broadway as director of All Under Heaven (starring Valerie Harper), which toured regionally and had a critically acclaimed run in Los Angeles. In 2005 Mr. Ruggiero conceived and directed the highly successful Ella, a musical portrait of Ella Fitzgerald (starring Tina Fabrique), which continues to play major theaters nationally with productions scheduled into 2009. Mr. Ruggiero's work on both plays and musicals has been seen at many regional theaters around the country, including Arena Stage, The Pittsburgh Public Theater, Barrington Stage Company, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Arizona Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, San Jose Repertory Theatre and The Asolo Repertory Theater, among others. Last season he directed a highly successful revival of 1776 for Goodspeed Musicals, where later this year he will direct a production of Big River. He is the recipient of two Kevin Kline Awards, for both "Best Director of a Musical" (Urinetown: The Musical) and "Best Director of a Play" (Take Me Out). An online portfolio of his work can be viewed at www.robruggiero.com.

NOTES FROM PLAYWRIGHT MATTHEW LOMBARDO:

Someone mentioned if I had ever thought of writing a play about Tallulah Bankhead. My response was immediate and negative. I mean, having just spent the last few years of my life with The Great Kate, the last thing I wanted to do was to write another play about yet another famous actress. But I was rather intrigued why the question had been posed. It was soon explained that there evidently was this 1965 audio tape floating around of Tallulah Bankhead in a looping session for the film Die, Die My Darling.

Suffice it to say -- my curiosity was soon peaked. And after listening to that recording (and despite my early objections) I was simultaneously catapulted into hysteria and overcome with melancholy -- for hearing the laughter and pain of a woman who had lived such an outrageous life, a self-indulgent existence of excess -- had me questioning my very own life as well. And it was at that moment I soon began drafting LOOPED.

Human nature always continues to fascinate me. Why do so many of us instinctively attempt to sabotage ourselves, causing conflict and chaos when all is seemingly moving in positive directions? Do we think we are unworthy or undeserving of success? Or do we need to infuse self-inflicted drama in order to make ourselves feel more alive in our everyday living? I suppose questions like these may never get answered but they are certainly worth exploration. And in the case of Tallulah Bankhead, my investigation led to one hell of an unforgettable ride!

Photo by Craig Schwartz

 


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