“Looped,” a comedy by Matthew Lombardo based on the life of actress Tallulah Bankhead, had audiences laughing on March 14, its opening night at...

“Looped,” a comedy by Matthew Lombardo based on the life of actress Tallulah Bankhead, had audiences laughing on March 14, its opening night at the Lyceum Theatre. This was not the first turn in the production for lead actress Valerie Harper; she played Bankhead in the world premiere of the comedy in 2008 at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Starring four-time Emmy Award winner Harper as the famously outrageous Bankhead, the special is based on a fabled sound editing session in 1965. Drunk, a frequent state for the actress who didn’t care who she shocked, Bankhead muddled her way through a rerecording of one line of dialogue for the movie “Die, Die, My Darling” with the film editor, Danny Miller. A loop that should have taken five minutes turned into an eight-hour ordeal.

Playwright Matthew Lombardo adapted the give-and-take between Bankhead and Miller, which was caught on tape. Harper is true to the audacious behavior and riotous humor of the legendary actress in this two-hour romp in which she owns the stage — and the audience. Rob Ruggiero directs the special, with Brian Hutchison as Danny and Michael Mulheren as Steve, the sound engineer.

A total of 10,436 patrons attended the production’s 20 previews through March 7, with capacity middling around 50- to 60 percent in the 916-seat theater. Gross ticket sales were $167,023 for the week ending March 7, with total grosses of $400,659, according to numbers from the Broadway League.

Performances are scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are scheduled Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. The performance is two hours long with one intermission. “Looped” is an open run.

The Lyceum Theatre is located at 149 West 45 Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue. Scheduling and ticketing details are available on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “Looped”

Publication Critic Review
New York Times Charles Isherwood “Ms. Harper camps and vamps with determined proficiency, injecting plenty of life if not much verisimilitude into Mr. Lombardo’s cruel but enjoyably catty cliché.”
USA Today Elysa Gardner “Harper’s witty, exuberant performance captures Bankhead’s cartoonish flamboyance but also shows us the cunning, resilience and genius for irony behind it.”
The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck “…all of this comic shtick starts to wear thin pretty quickly, and the playwright’s efforts to inject drama into the proceedings…are even less successful.”
TheaterMania David Finkle “While Lombardo goes far to prove the outrageous good company Bankhead could be, he doesn’t go far enough to include a rounded portrait of the fabulous, though severely conflicted, life she led.”
Associated Press Michael Kuchwara “Four-letter words fly. And so do the laughs.”
NY Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz “At times her outsize expressions and gestures skitter dangerously close to caricature, but between [Harper’s] smart instincts and Rob Ruggiero’s direction she keeps her from going over the edge.”