Saturday, December 07, 2013

My life: Stefanie Powers

The American actress talks about her Hong Kong love affair and passion for conservation

I grew up in Hollywood and everybody knew somebody in the movie business, whether a cameraman, an editor or a writer. People's paths were constantly criss-crossing, especially people who were in front of the camera.

My mother loved ballet and always had classical music on. I danced around the house a lot and when I became old enough, she took me to ballet school. What are the chances of having three young ladies in one ballet class who would all wind up being married to the same man? Natalie Wood, Jill St. John and me. Well, I was married to Robert Wagner on screen [in the TV show Hart to Hart] but they were married to him in reality. That's how small the world of movies was in those days, once you were in it you knew everyone instantaneously, so it seemed.

When I was 15, I was the same height I am now - and with tits - so I was absolutely not eligible any longer for ballet. But there was the American School of Dance. There was a bulletin board at the school with notices about auditions for dancers. A friend who was 16, a year older than me, and I used to go off to the auditions. They never look at dancers' faces, they only look at the way you move. The joke between our mothers was that we would always be kept to the end and then the girl with the clipboard would come around to take our details and say, "Wait a minute, how old are you?" We went to an audition for West Side Story. I did 16 auditions and three screen tests and then they said, "Go get your working permit." I was just coming up to 16, I was a minor, so they had to bring a teacher to me on the set. It was the first time I met Robert Wagner, because he and Natalie came on the set and watched us rehearsing. Then they decided it was too restrictive having me around - only being allowed to work for so many hours a day - so I got fired. 

In the meantime, there was a director at the studio we were filming in and he spoke to my mother, said he was doing a movie and gave me a script. I was so nervous, I didn't know what to do and I walked into his office and burst into tears - "I'm a dancer, I'm not an actress, what do you want from me?" And he said, "That'll do." It was an artsy-fartsy film that didn't come out for quite a few years, but because of his friendship with a number of producers in Hollywood, they screened it around and I was invited to attend classes at 20th Century Fox, MGM Studios and Columbia.

One day, running late for class, I pushed open a swing door and swung right into the face of a man wearing the same sunglasses as I was. These sunglasses were the latest thing on the French Riviera. He said, "Where did you get those sunglasses?" "From my friend who was driving at the Monte Carlo Rally. Where did you get yours?" "I was at the Monte Carlo Rally." He said he was a director, Blake Edwards, and asked me to come for a screen test. I did and he gave me the role of Lee Remick's sister in a movie with Glenn Ford called Experiment in Terror. That was the beginning of my contract with Columbia Pictures. I was tied for seven years; in those days if you signed a motion picture contract you were not allowed to do television. So I did three pictures a year for five years and then they sold me to MGM to do a television series called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

In the 1960s, when I was doing The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., I met Gary Lockwood at a party. Among other things, he appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey and I was the first voice of HAL the computer. We went away for a weekend and got married. Then - fade out, fade in - Gary and I filed for divorce and I went to play in a charity tennis tournament at La Costa, a resort in southern California. There was a party for the participants and, uncharacteristically, William Holden went. I'd met Bill before. The first time was at a New Year's Eve party and then, years later, at a bookshop in Hollywood. I was pulling out a book on Kenya and he came up behind me and said, "Are you interested in East Africa?" This time, at La Costa, we clicked.

I had just started seeing Bill in a very circumspect way, he was extremely discreet about his private life, and I mentioned that I was going to Hong Kong to play a charity tennis match. He was very involved with Hong Kong - he had a penthouse apartment on Robinson Road and did two iconic films, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and The World of Suzie Wong - so it wasn't unusual for him to say, "Let me show you my Hong Kong."

I already had a great friend in Hong Kong - Elaine Forsgate Marden - and as it was a very small place, Bill had met her when she was a child because he knew her family. All of a sudden I was engulfed in this amazing place. I was already in love with him, so it was easy to love everything that he loved and I got the Hong Kong bug as well. Discovery Bay was being developed - it was supposed to be this wonderful low-rise development and I bought a piece of property; it was going to be the last house on the beach in the cul-de-sac. It was a lovely spot. I had it for 14, almost 15 years.

The first time I went to East Africa was with Bill in 1973. He was a remarkable man, involved in conservation before it was a word in anybody's lexicon, and he did extraordinary work creating the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, the first of its kind on the continent - a privately created game reserve for the preservation of species. My involvement in Kenya became greater after Bill died. I created the William Holden Wildlife Foundation to fulfil what Bill had always wanted to do, which was to include the educational component with the conservation work.

I don't live anywhere; I travel between houses and residences. At this stage in my life and career I look for roles that are going to be challenging. I didn't become an actor to be myself, I became an actor to be somebody else and so, to the extent that I can, that's what I look for.

Stefanie Powers was back in Hong Kong to help celebrate The Peninsula hotel's 85th anniversary.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Two H2H Pix from Entertainment Weekly

'Hart to Hart’ Cast Reunites, Thanks to Entertainment Weekly

"Hart to Hart" was the classic hit television series that followed a fabulously wealthy CEO, played by Robert Wagner, and a freelance journalist, played by Stefanie Powers, as they fell in love and traveled the globe as amateur detectives.

If that plot sounds wild, so was the reunion that brought Wagner, 83, and Powers, 70, back together again after 17 years. The reunion, coordinated for Entertainment Weekly magazine’s annual reunions issue, was hosted by “Hart to Hart” “superfans” Adam Scott and Amy Poehler, who play husband and wife themselves on the TV sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”

Poehler’s asked “the Harts” what it was like to play husband and wife on the small screen.

“They were constantly asking us to have affairs with other people, have a child,” Powers, aka Jennifer Hart, said, referring to the show’s creative team. “We couldn’t have a child. It would slow us down.”

“They constantly wanted to have conflict between us,” agreed Wagner, aka Jonathan Hart, but said their characters “never got into any domestic squabbles.”

Powers pointed out that their characters were “two people who were adults who were in love with each other who had chosen to be together and were there because of free will.”

“We were a team,” he said.

The pair’s chemistry was so strong that the producers and crew tried to keep them apart in order to keep the show, which ran from 1979-84, moving along on schedule.

“We would get tired and laugh [and] one take would become 30,” Powers said.

“We had so much joy that the main office came down and said they didn’t want us to be together because we would laugh,” Wagner recalled. “They got really upset. They were like, ‘Why did they do that? Why did they laugh?’”

Powers first met Wagner when she was a dancer during preproduction for the 1961 movie musical “West Side Story.” (Powers was later cut from the cast.)

“We were rehearsing every day … and then, one day, in walked the two most beautiful people in the world, real movie stars Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood,” Powers said, referring to Wagner’s late wife, the actress Wood, who died after falling off a yacht that Wagner was also on in 1981.

In a strange coincidence, Powers at one time studied ballet with both Wood and Wagner’s current wife, Jill St. John.

“Who in the world would ever predict that in one ballet class there would be three people who would be, in one way or another, married to Robert Wagner?” Powers said.

And while Powers’ onscreen persona carried with her an aura of glamour and wealth and was famous for her voluminous hair, she revealed to Poehler a behind-the-scenes secret that the current sitcom star could not believe.

“You set your own hair,” Poehler asked Powers, incredulously.

“I never had one,” Powers replied, referring to a hairdresser.

Monday, September 23, 2013

‘Sunset Boulevard’ Screening and Tribute to South Pasadena’s William Holden

Sunset Boulevard, the 1950 noir classic starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden—who grew up in South Pasadena—will be screened in the South Public Library Community Room on Thursday, Sept. 26 starting at 7 p.m.

Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, the film features Swanson and Holden in their most iconic roles. The superlative supporting cast includes Nancy Olson, Jack Webb, and Erich von Stroheim. Legions of critics and audiences alike still consider Sunset Boulevard one of the Top 10 Hollywood films ever made. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won three, including Best Screenplay.

William Franklin Beedle, Jr., later to be known the world over as William Holden, was born in 1918 in O'Fallon, a small town in Illinois. When he was a boy, his parents bought a business in Monrovia, CA, and the family moved to South Pasadena. Bill became a popular student at South Pasadena High School, where he played football and basketball. After graduation he enrolled at Pasadena Junior College, later to be called Pasadena City College, and became interested in acting.

While still a relative unknown, Holden nailed the Sunset Boulevard role of screenwriter Joe Gillis and catapulted straight to the top of the list of Hollywood leading men. In 1953 Holden won the Oscar for Best Actor for Stalag 17, also directed by Billy Wilder, and by 1956 he was the top box office attraction in the United States.

When his acceptance speech consisted solely of "Thank you," some believed it was because he felt snubbed for being overlooked for his virtuoso performance in Sunset Boulevard. Overdue or not, the award led Holden to a string of star turns in blockbuster films in a legendary career consisting of more than 70 major motion pictures. Holden's captivating screen presence and All-American looks made him a favorite of millions of fans.

Famed actress and author Stefanie Powers, fondly remembered for both the Hart to Hart and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. TV shows, will deliver a tribute to Holden, who she devotes a chapter to in her memoir, "One from the Hart." Stefanie is currently the president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation. Stefanie's latest star turn, "Reading, Writing, and Romance" aired on the Hallmark Channel on Aug. 10, 2013. Los Angeles historian Tom Zimmerman will introduce Sunset Boulevard and his critical perspective.

CommCinema will provide professional projection services and a huge screen for this free event presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and South Pasadena Community Services.

The Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro St.  Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary. Refreshments will be served. Special thanks to Kathy Bartels, Friends of the Rialto, Paramount Pictures, and Videotheque of South Pasadena.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reading, Writing & Romance - Hallmark Channel Original Movie - Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ 9 pm

Struggling actor Wayne Wenders (Eric Mabius) is comically famous for starring in a low-budget commercial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome medication, a reputation he is hoping to change when he finally lands a starring role in a national root beer ad. But when the paycheck for his big break is delayed, Wayne looks for other options to pay his increasingly late rent and ends up interviewing for a gig teaching Shakespeare at the local high school.

Principal Brenda Post (Stefanie Powers) hires Wayne for his natural theatrical talent and enthusiasm, but Wayne is soon surprising himself with his love of the job—and for fellow English teacher Amy (Virginia Williams), who is immediately impressed with Wayne's passion and his idea to teach the students with an exciting film project. As Wayne's understanding of teaching develops and his relationship with Amy evolves, he must ultimately decide if his dreams of stardom are really worth sacrificing everything for.

Also starring Meredith Baxter, Martin Mull & Adam Kulbersh.

Stefanie Powers stars in Macomb Town Hall

Stefanie is in, Joan is out.

Actress Stefanie Powers will lead off the Macomb Town Hall lecture/luncheon series on Oct. 15 at Andiamo Banquet Center, 7096 14 Mile Road in Warren, Michigan. The series supports the Gladys McLean Macomb Town Hall Endowed Scholarship at Oakland University benefitting Macomb County students.

Powers replaces actress Joan Collins (originally announced as the guest speaker) who canceled because of a scheduling conflict.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eric Mabius and Virginia Williams Star with Stefanie Powers and Meredith Baxter in "Reading, Writing & Romance," a Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere August 10

A commercial actor takes on a job teaching Shakespeare to pay the bills and ends up finding his leading lady in "Reading, Writing & Romance," a Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere Saturday, August 10 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C). Eric Mabius ("Ugly Betty") and Virginia Williams ("Fairly Legal") star alongside five-time Golden Globe and two-time Emmy nominee Stefanie Powers ("Hart to Hart"), three-time Emmy nominee Meredith Baxter ("Family Ties"), Martin Mull ("Two and A Half Men") and Adam Kulbersh ("Wake Up, It's Tuesday!") in this lighthearted romantic comedy.

Struggling actor Wayne Wenders (Mabius) is comically famous for starring in a low-budget commercial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome medication, a reputation he is hoping to change when he finally lands a starring role in a national root beer ad. But when the paycheck for his big break is delayed, Wayne looks for other options to pay his increasingly late rent and ends up interviewing for a gig teaching Shakespeare at the local high school. Principal Brenda Post (Powers) hires Wayne for his natural theatrical talent and enthusiasm, but Wayne is soon surprising himself with his love of the job - and for fellow English teacher Amy (Williams), an attractive woman, who is immediately impressed with Wayne's passion and his idea to teach the students with an exciting film project.

As Amy and Wayne start to fall in love against the school's strict no-fraternizing policy, they must dodge the watchful eye of Vice Principal Trautman (Kulbersh), the school's strict bully who's own crush on Amy is no secret. Harboring a vengeful grudge with Wayne, Trautman sets out to ruin his career and his relationship. But before Trautman can do any serious damage, Wayne threatens to sabotage himself when he selfishly decides to suddenly quit the teaching job early for a movie role, disappointing his parents (Mull and Baxter), his students and most of all, Amy. Now, Wayne must ultimately decide if his dreams of stardom are really worth sacrificing everything for.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Get Looped with Stefanie Powers in Boston

Matthew Lombardo’s hilarious Broadway Comedy Looped at the Cutler Majestic on Thursday, May 2 at 8 pm.
Tickets are $45.00. Special discount price for Club Cafe members. Use discount code bourbon for May 2nd tickets.
Personal meet and greet with Stefanie Powers and the cast at Club Cafe after the show!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stefanie Powers Channels Tallulah in ‘Looped’

Stefanie Powers as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped

The current production of playwright Matthew Lombardi’s Looped, which runs through March 17 at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, is a bittersweet affair. Although it’s a wildly entertaining show, an ailing Valerie Harper, who has acknowledged a cancer diagnosis, had to pull out shortly before it opened.

In her place and starring as Tallulah Bankhead is Hart to Hart actress Stefanie Powers. The sweet part is that she succeeds so triumphantly in the role — she’s equally as good as Harper, who played the part in Washington nearly four years ago, and produces an uncanny portrayal of Bankhead that’s so accomplished, after a few minutes one forgets one is watching Powers on stage. And it’s easier said than done — this is the kind of part that is easy enough to master on a drag queen or sketch comedy level, but to imbibe Bankhead with humanity, is a bit trickier. Powers succeeds in spades. Even more astounding, she learned the dialogue-heavy part in just two weeks.

It helps, perhaps, that she was Bankhead’s costar in the 1965 film Die Die My Darling. The setting of Looped is Bankhead — pretty looped herself at this point — attempting to dub a line from the film in post-production. She has trouble getting it. Hilarity and unexpected poignance ensue. Her foil is Danny, solidly played by Brian Hutchinson, and, in the sound booth, a deadpan Steve (Matthew Montelongo). Rob Ruggiero directs.

Go here for tickets and show times.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

An eccentric Tallulah Bankhead is back in ‘Looped’

Tallulah Bankhead was a character. Playwright Matthew Lombardo calls her “the original celebrity bad girl,” an actress who became more famous for her offstage, off-screen antics than for her performances — which, in a few instances, were magnificent.

How bad was Bankhead?

The Alabama-born daughter of U.S. Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead had a thing about clothes: She didn’t like them. On more than one occasion — including her run as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire at the Coconut Grove Playhouse — she would answer a knock at her dressing room door wearing nothing but a string of pearls. She famously did cartwheels while wearing a dress and no underwear. She was bisexually voracious, a heavy smoker and enthusiastic bourbon drinker who swore that cocaine — another of her enduring enthusiasms — wasn’t habit-forming.

“She was far more talented than Bette Davis or Joan Crawford,” Lombardo argues. “But they played by the rules.”

So Lombardo, the author of Tea at Five (about Katharine Hepburn) and High (a play featuring Kathleen Turner as an unorthodox, potty-mouthed nun), wrote Looped.

The play, which lasted for 27 previews and 33 performances on Broadway in 2010, earned a best actress Tony Award nomination for its original star, Valerie Harper. She was slated to star as Bankhead in the Looped national tour, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse. But unspecified health problems caused Harper, who became a famous television face as Mary Tyler Moore’s pal Rhoda, to bow out. In her just-released memoir I, Rhoda, Harper revealed she was treated for lung cancer when Looped was on its way to Broadway, something she had never discussed with Lombardo or director Rob Ruggiero.

So now another familiar TV star, Stefanie Powers of Hart to Hart, will be the woman sporting Bankhead’s wavy hairdo and swearing up a storm in Lombardo’s raucous, funny play.

Though Looped was written with Harper in mind and shaped with her playing Bankhead at three theaters (including the former Cuillo Centre in West Palm Beach) on its road to Broadway, Powers brings a special insider’s perspective to the play, one that Lombardo, Harper and Ruggiero simply didn’t have.

The play’s title refers not to Bankhead’s inebriated state — though in Looped, she’s pretty well pickled — but to a 1965 session in which she had to re-record a line of dialogue for the movie Die, Die, My Darling. In the British thriller Fanatic, Bankhead played a religious zealot who goes off the deep end, trying to kill the young woman who had been engaged to her late son. That almost daughter-in-law was played by a young actress in her first big movie role: Stefanie Powers.

“I wouldn’t call this a comedy,” Powers says of Looped. “She was intrinsically a very daring and funny woman. If the dialogue is funny, it comes out of this extraordinary wit. She was always a bit shocking...I want to channel her as much as I possibly can. It has to resonate in my head.”

“Val’s Tony-nominated Tallulah was wonderful. But we had to craft it and work at the rhythms of how she speaks,” says Ruggiero. “With Stefanie, it’s second nature. She was there.”

Lombardo, who splits his time between New York and Fort Lauderdale, has an affinity for plays centered around strong female characters. He had never had a special interest in Bankhead, an actress whose most notable stage work was in The Little Foxes and The Skin of Our Teeth, and who won a New York Film Critics Circle best actress award for the 1944 Alfred Hitchcock movie Lifeboat. But a chance remark at a party launched Lombardo on the journey to Looped.

A partygoer asked if he had ever heard the story about Bankhead showing up less than sober to re-record this tongue twister of a line from Die, Die, My Darling: “And so Patricia, as I was telling you, that deluded rector has in literal effect closed the church to me.”

The original mistake wasn’t Bankhead’s. A sound guy hit some shrubbery with a microphone, obscuring most of her line. But because of Bankhead’s condition on the day revisited in the play, what should have been a few minutes’ work in a recording studio turned into hours.

“She had these ‘caddies,’ gay men who followed her around and helped her out, and one of them had recorded the session, unbeknownst to her,” Lombardo says. “The tape is 30 minutes long, and she cannot get the line. I listened to it over and over, and it went from a hysterical, laugh-out-loud experience to something else. The drinking, drugs and promiscuity all caught up with her, and she became a caricature of herself.”

Looped is a mixture of fact and creative license. To give Bankhead an opponent, Lombardo created the character of Danny Miller, a film editor who grows increasingly exasperated with the misbehaving star.

“I threw her in a room with someone who was her complete opposite,” the playwright says, “a very conservative, quiet, meek film editor. A sheep.”

Ruggiero says of Bankhead: “She was a woman who lived her life fully, without apology. She was vivid and unedited. The gay community felt a connection to her because of her sense of humor and camp ...We all care what people think of us, but she pretended she didn’t.”

He adds that having Powers as the larger-than-life woman in that room has been enlightening.

“Stefanie shares stories from the movie set. They pop in and out, like an oral history,” Ruggiero says.

Powers was a 23-year-old ingĂ©nue when she made Die, Die, My Darling. She’s 70 now, a woman who can look back on a multifaceted career in movies, TV and on stage; and on a life fully lived, including a romance with William Holden and her own successful battle with lung cancer.

Her assessment of Bankhead, her onetime costar?

“This self-destructive engine that moved her and her personal lifestyle choices were extremely damaging to her artistry. They engulfed her at the end. But the world she came from tolerated great eccentricity in successful people. It was encouraged and enjoyed. It can’t be reproduced in this homogeneous society we have now.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stefanie Powers Talks Tallulah As She Gets Ready for Looped

Stefanie Powers
When Stefanie Powers received the call to ask her if she'd replace an ailing Valerie Harper in the play Looped, Powers was rehearsing another play. She was co-starring with former television actor David Soul in Love Letters in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With only two weeks to prepare for Looped, she's steeped in learning her lines and ready for her close up to star as Tallulah Bankhead in playwright Matthew Lombardo's diva vehicle based on a slice of life taken from a real story about the legendary actress.

"I'm brand new into the rehearsal process for Looped," Powers says during a telephone interview — her melodic voice chiming in, so familiar as Jennifer Hart from the television series, Hart to Hart. "I'm most anxious to get started and spend as much time as I possibly can preparing."

It was the end of January when it was announced that Valerie Harper would have to bow out of the national tour of the play, which gets its kick off at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse on Feb. 26.

Harper was hospitalized during rehearsals for the tour, a role which she originated on Broadway in 2010 and for which she received a Tony Award nomination. When the actress was advised to take a medical leave from the show, Powers was tapped as her replacement and she couldn't be a more likely choice. In the play, Bankhead is called into a sound studio in 1965 to re-record (or "loop") one line of dialogue for what would be her last film, the campy horror classic Die! Die! My Darling, which also co-starred Powers and what would be Bankhead's last film.

"You could say I have an unusual connection to the role. I can hear her somewhere in the recesses of my medulla oblongata. I keep hearing her because I did have that intimate contact with her. But, I still have to approach the role with me as the actor and she as the character," says Powers.

There are other connections including Harper and Powers both having the same oncologist after their diagnoses of lung cancer. It was during preparation for Looped's New York premiere in 2009 that Harper, a lifelong non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer, a revelation that she discusses for the first time in her memoir, I, Rhoda. Harper had the cancer removed along with a piece of her lung. Powers has become an outspoken advocate for early cancer detection. After a friend died of late-diagnosed lung cancer, she ordered herself an X-ray, which showed pre-cancerous cells in her lung. When she was diagnosed in 2009 with malignant cancer, she then had surgery to remove a lobe of her right lung. Power chronicles the cancer battle in her book, One From the Hart.

"Valerie has been such a cheerleader for me taking over this role," says Powers. In a statement released by her publicist, Harper praises the actress. "In my opinion, Stefanie is the perfect choice to take over this role. She is extraordinarily talented and will make one terrific Tallulah."

Powers goes on to describe how she is approaching the role of Tallulah. "My chore is to not just portray someone who is famous for their personality or for the way in which they behaved — she was very much a gay icon and every drag queen at one time or another had her in their repertoire. I want to bring the truth of the character to the role and not the parody of it, and do her justice in trying to capture the real person rather than the exaggeration."

And what does Powers have to say to fans who will be disappointed that Harper is not in the starring role? "I'd tell them that whether they are seeing Valerie's version or my version, they are actually going to see Tallulah, and this wonderful play that Matthew has written. Hopefully that's what Valerie would say, too."

Much of Powers' professional career was spent on television — her first series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. marked a milestone in U.S. television history in 1966 as the first hour-long series to feature a female in a leading role. And then, of course, there was her most recognized role, which gained her international fame as Robert Wagner's co-star in the long-running Hart to Hart. She's one of those stars, however, that can do just about everything — she's written screenplays, a memoir, and a one woman show, Hart of my Heart, which also spotlights her singing talents in a tribute she wrote about the life and lyrics of Lorenz Hart. In 1991, she performed in the original London musical, Matador. It ran for only three months, but it launched a career for her in musicals. Her portrayal of Anna in The King and I played for nearly two years in London's West End.

The actress has also remounted the musical Sunset Boulevard with a U.S. revival in the works, mining much of what she had learned of the movie from her longtime love William Holden, who starred in the classic opposite Gloria Swanson.

For now, however, her attention is to Tallulah and to bringing a character to the stage that she says she's enjoying exploring and that she believes the audience will appreciate, too.

"There's a lot of humor in this piece, but there's a lot of insight, too, of an extraordinary eccentric, the likes of which will never been seen again. The world today would not tolerate her kind of eccentricity. We've all become so homogenized. So this is a treat for me and for the audience. To step inside this world and to spend a few hours with an extraordinary eccentric such as Tallulah is nothing less than sheer delight."

Looped runs from Feb. 26 through March 3 at The Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 954-522-5334 or or

Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers in Die! Die! My Darling

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stefanie Powers comes to Fort Lauderdale this month in 'Looped'

Stefanie Powers stars as the venerable actress Tallulah Bankhead in "Looped," which opens at the Parker Playhouse on Feb. 26 for a six-day run.

"Looped," which tells the store of Bankhead through a real life incident that occurred in 1965, when the inebriated actress, who was known for her flamboyance, needed eight hours to redub (or 'loop') one line of dialogue for her last movie, "Die! Die! My Darling!"

Though Bankhead dominates the play, the sub-story involves her battle of wills with a film editor named Danny Miller, who was selected to work on that particular sound editing session.

Valerie Harper originated the role in "Looped" received a Tony nomination for it. However, she was forced to step aside following a recent health scare, and gave her blessing to Powers, who actually co-starred with Bankhead film upon which the incident in "Looped" is based.

"In my opinion, Stefanie is the perfect choice to take over this role. She is extraordinarily talented and will make one terrific Tallulah!," said Harper in a statement. "I urge everyone to go out and see this hysterically funny plan and support Stefanie's participation," Harper added.

Powers is best known for starring in the popular television series "Hart to Hart" with Robert Wagner. However, she is also an Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominated actress with a long career in stage and film.

More info: Parker Playhouse

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stefanie Powers to Replace Ailing Valerie Harper in National Tour of Looped

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 Bankhead’s daughter in 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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love Letters at the Madinat Theatre

Art For All is proud to present this romantic stage show at Madinat Theatre.

Date: Thursday, 31st January - Saturday, 2nd February 2013
Duration: 3 days
Timings: 10:00 PM
Audience: Art Lovers, Family, General Public
Category: Entertainment
Venue: Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Admission: AED 200 - 275
Telephone: +971 4 366 8888

This play, considered one of Gurney's best and a classic of the American stage, tells the story of two people who grew up together in the 1930s and continue to stay in touch through letters. Directed by Ian Talbot, it stars the American actress Stefanie Powers ("Hart to Hart") and the American-British actor David Soul ("Starsky and Hutch").

Tickets available from the Madinat Theatre Box Office and online at TimeOut Tickets, Groupon and Virgin Megastore.

Love Letters comes to the UAE

Directed by Ian Talbot and starring the American actress Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart) and the American/British actor David Soul (Starsky and Hutch), the play brings together laughter and sadness, with the audience often seeing something of their own lives up on stage.

First performed in 1988 in Connecticut, Love Letters, which features two main characters, has become a favourite for many celebrities to tackle, including Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Reeve, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels and James Earl Jones.

It is being brought to Dubai by the UAE-based Art for All and the London-based Jamie Wilson Productions (When Harry Met Sally, The Night Before Christmas).

The universal story is pertinent to any nationality, according to Talbot, the artistic director of the Regent Park open-air theatre in the UK. “We have worked on the premise that Andy has discovered the letters in his attic after many years. He reads them and memories come flooding back. Both sit in rooms that represent their personalities.”

The play aims to illustrate how “inept” we sometimes are when trying to express true feelings.

While Melissa talks about the merits of the telephone above letter writing, the character of Andy finds the phone inhibiting and can only relay his true feelings on paper. With the constant advancements in technology, Talbot says he can sympathise. The director recounts a recent experience at a restaurant where six people sitting at the same table focused on their mobile phones rather than each other.

“We are losing the ability to communicate and I mourn the lack of letter writing,” says Talbot.

Writing with the stars

Having seen the results of the successful partnership between Powers and Soul when they previously acted in the play, the producer Jamie Wilson decided to reunite the pair for the Dubai performance.

A R Gurney was once quoted as saying the play “needs no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorisation of lines and no commitment from its two actors beyond the night of the performance.”

Both Soul and Powers say the “unusual” play is a “gift” and a “joy” for any actor to do. The actors describe the story as an insight into two people’s lives through letters that show how they become who they are and in what ways they both deal with life. They encourage UAE residents to come and watch how they made each character their own, and also to witness their on-screen chemistry.

“It’s a study of the human condition that audiences will be able to relate to,” said Powers and Soul in a joint statement.

They were both “very moved” by the play from the first read as it stirred different emotions.

A challenging play

Opening with a “beautiful rendition” of Love Letters, Love Letters asks the audience to be true to themselves and avoid allowing others to suppress what they believe, says Talbot.

“Everyone experiences strong emotions that sometimes are hard to relate. The play is a challenge but it is so well written that if you cast it with two talented and experienced actors, it will take care of itself,” he adds. “Everyone can ask themselves if they have always followed their hearts.”

The story also explores how the characters come from comfortable backgrounds materially, but find it hard to express themselves emotionally.

“These are two wonderful parts that don’t come along all that often. No wonder it attracts star names,” says Talbot, who advises the audience to “bring a handkerchief.”

Following the production, Powers is set to go on location in Hungary for a new film, while Soul is working on a documentary in Cuba about the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s car.