Matthew Lombardo’s world premiere comedy is loosely based on a real-life incident, when Tallulah Bankhead (Valerie Harper) was called back to the studio to rerecord one line of dialogue for what would be her final film, Die! Die! My Darling. Well past her prime, the alcoholic, pill-popping, coke-snorting actress turns a five-minute task into an eight-hour ordeal, much to the dismay of Danny (Chad Allen), a minor studio employee charged with supervising her. After Bankhead repeatedly blows the line, Danny appeals to her vanity, ego and sense of professionalism, without result. But when she claims that she originated the role of Blanche in the Broadway premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire, Danny boldly calls her out on this lie, reminding her that she did eventually perform Streetcar — but at Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse, where audiences laughed at her. In response, the drug-addled actress performs a monologue from Streetcar, and the drab recording studio subtly morphs into a latticed New Orleans avenue, thanks to Adrian W. Jones innovative scenic design and Michael Gilliam’s burnished lighting. Under Rob Ruggiero’s direction, Harper adeptly captures Bankhead’s distinctive vocal mannerisms, and Allen is first-rate as her beleaguered foil. Much of Lombardo’s dialogue is hilarious (“There was a big line in the lady’s room,” Tallulah announces after doing a rail of coke), but the padded two-act play would be more effective as a long one-act.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: July 8. Continues through Aug. 3, 2008

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.