Monday, May 27, 2024

Liza With a Z Visits Valerie with an R (“Rhoda”) on Broadway


Friday night on Broadway: Liza Minnelli and pal Michael Feinstein visited Valerie Harper backstage after one of her last performances in the play, “Looped.” Harper makes for a marvelous Tallulah Bankhead, the celebrity actress of the 40s, 50s, and 60s who boozed, drugged, and slept her way back and forth between Hollywood and Broadway.Bankhead was the original bad girl, Paris, Lindsay, and Britney all rolled into one.

Harper is really brilliant and never a caricature as she portrays the star in her waning days. She deserves a Tony nomination for her excellent work. She is a comic assassin, able to deliver devastating lines and keep moving. While the play isn’t perfect, Harper is riveting. I hope the Tony committee doesn’t write her off as “Rhoda” from TV come to impress on Broadway. She’s too good not to be taken seriously.

Minnelli and Feinstein were wowed and told Harper so. But I winced a little since much of Tallulah’s life seemed similar to Minnelli’s. She was a good sport about it, though, and in fine form following knee replacement surgery from January.

Why is “Looped” closing? The word is a backer backed out at the last minute. It’s too bad. This show should move to off Broadway, like the Lucille Lortel downtown. It could run forever with lower overhead. The Friday night house was sold out…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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