How did you come to be involved in Looped?
3 weeks ago I was in rehearsals for another play with David Sole in the Middle East, we were doing Love Letters as a Play in several of the countries along the Persian Gulf, not a reading and I got a call from Valery Harper and the other producer of the play, to ask if I would be interested in taking over for Valery, very quickly… it’s all come about very quickly, which is probably a good thing because if I had thought about it, I may have changed my mind, taking on such a huge responsibility in such a short amount of rehearsal time.
What is your earliest Theatre Memory?
My earliest recollection of the theatre is the ballet, my mother was a débutée of the balet so we were always at all the shows, though I grew up in California, so we had to wait until the shows would make it all the way out there. I do remember seeing Ethel Merman in Gypsy, she came to LA and did the show, and I remember seeing it at the Biltmore Theatre, I remember seeing Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin in South Pacific when I was very young. Maybe we saw that in New York when I was a child, but the theatre was a regular part of our lives so I was certainly drawn to that, but the dancing was what really drove me in the theatre, and I was a teenager, very young, when I worked as a dancer for Jerome Robins.
Coming on board with Looped is a full circle moment for you since you stared with Tellulah Bankhead in the movie that Looped refers too.
I was in the film that is depicted in the play, so there is a coincidental odd connection, I obviously knew her professionally, and after the fact, I knew her on a personal level, because, although I didn’t live in NY, I would see her every time I came to New York, which wasn’t for too many years after we made the film, because she died shortly thereafter.
What’s it like as you are going through the rehearsal process playing the part of someone you knew.
I’ve only had one day of rehearsal!
I am in the midst as an actress…my job is to find the character in myself, I keep saying Daniel Day Luis had one full year to research everything he did for Lincoln, I have my memories… but in addition to that, I still have to find the subjective point of view as an actor, rather than the objective point of view of an outsider looking in on her. That’s still my job: to play the character no matter if I knew her or not.
Fascinating. I can’t imagine what it would be like to play someone who I actually knew.
You can’t approach it from an objective, from the outside. You have to look at it from the inside, being that person and not being somebody that you observed. Which is a different idea.
What is your connection to the gay community?
Well, my favorite cousin is a gay man, my other favorite cousin is a lesbian woman, and my other favorite cousin is a transsexual, so I think…
…You’ve got the LGBT community quite covered.
I have it all in my family, my intimate family, if it makes any difference. I don’t see them as labels; I see them as people, people I love. When you talk about Tallulah, she was absolutely 100% a gay icon, but insofar as that’s concerned, and insofar as the fact that almost every female impersonator has had Tallulah in their repertoire, my job, as an actor, is NOT to parody her. So I have to work against what the obvious might be, and still bring out the person that she was so it’s a very interesting challenge for me.
Powers is sure to please playing the role of her friend and fellow actress Tallulah Bankhead. Looped is playing at the Parker Playhouse for one week only; from February 26 till March 3. For ticket information, go to www.browardcenter.org We hope to see you there.