ROBIN’S SHOW RECOMMENDATION: Queen of the Mist
Transport Group, the Drama Desk and OBIE award-winning theatre company is presenting the world premiere of the new musical, Queen of the Mist, with words and music by five-time Tony Award nominee Michael John LaChiusa, directed by four-time Drama Desk Award nominee Jack Cummings III. Peformances began October 18th, and it opens November 6th.
Based on a true story, Queen of the Mist stars two-time Tony nominee Mary Testa as Anna Edson Taylor, who, in 1901, set out to be the first woman to shoot Niagara Falls—in a barrel of her own design. Navigating both the treacherous Falls and a fickle public with a ravenous appetite for sensationalism, this unconventional heroine vies for her legacy in a world clamoring with swindling managers, assassins, revolutionaries, moralizing family, anarchists, and activists. Convinced there is greatness in her and determined not to live as ordinary, she sets out to battle her fear and tempt fate. With a score that incorporates turn of the century themes with signature LaChiusa elements, Queen of the Mist is the tale of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she could live.
What a treat to see this musical! Who would have thought that in what felt like a make-shift space..a narrow hardwood gymnasium floor and bleacher-style seating…that brilliance could result?! The story was emotionally gripping, and Testa delivers a knockout performance. She is captivating from the moment we set eye on her eyes filled with intensity and passion, and when she sings There is Greatness in Me, we acknowledge that she does indeed! The perfect choice to play this little known historical heroine, she is on the mark whether delivering comedic lines with bite or capturing the depths of despair with strength and tears. Her co-star, The Falls, came across loud ‘n clear as well, thanks to the roaring sound effects and lighting. The audience was right there with her, and we were as engaged as no doubt the real life onlookers were when her custom designed barrel submerged, and Ms. Taylor survived.
Supported by highly capable cast members D.C. Anderson (The Phantom of the Opera, The Life Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby); Stanley Bahorek (See Rock City and Other Destinations, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); Theresa McCarthy (Titanic, Floyd Collins); Julia Murney (Wicked, The Wild Party, First Lady Suite); Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific, Tales of the City); and Tally Sessions (The House of Blue Leaves, Yank), the ensemble works well together (adeptly moving props, a piano and furniture around the stage, on top of playing their respective roles), displaying a wide range of talent and versatility. Stanley Bahorek was particularly affecting in a tender scene as Mike Taylor, a Soldier, who is a fan of Ms. Taylor. And, Andrew Samonsky as Frank Russell, Anna’s scheming manager, is commanding, both in presence and voice.
Queen of the Mist is the inaugural production of Transport Group’s 20th Century Project, a ten-year initiative spanning ten productions, each production focusing on a different decade of the 20th century. The ten productions comprise five musicals and five plays—including three commissioned musicals, two commissioned plays, and five revivals. Queen of the Mist focuses on the decade 1900-1910.
Michael John LaChiusa’s most recent work includes the music and lyrics to Giant, (book by Sybille Pearson); Los Otros, (book by Ellen Fitzhugh); and the score for Maria Aitken’s production of As You Like It at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C. As a composer, lyricist and librettist, his other works include Bernarda Alba, See What I Wanna See, The Highest Yellow, Little Fish, Hello Again, First Lady Suite, and Break/Agnes/Eulogy for Mister Hamm. Mr. LaChiusa was represented on Broadway during the 1999-2000 season by The Wild Party and Marie Christine, receiving nominations for Best Score and Best Book (with George C. Wolfe on The Wild Party) for each show and he received a Tony nomination for Best Book (Graciela Daniele and Jim Lewis) for Chronicle of a Death Foretold. He has provided scores for the children’s television show on Nick Jr, The Wonder Pets, for which he received two Emmy Awards.
Queen of the Mist has choreography by Scott Rink (Hello Again, Crossing Brooklyn); musical direction by Chris Fenwick (See What I Wanna See); orchestrations by Michael Starobin (Hello Again, Falsettos, Sunday in the Park With George, two-time Tony winner for Next To Normal and Assassins).
The scenic design for Queen of the Mist is by Sandra Goldmark (Hello Again, Drama Desk nominee for The Boys in the Band); costume design is by Kathryn Rohe (The Boys in the Band, Hello Again); lighting design is by R. Lee Kennedy (three-time Drama Desk nominee: The Audience, Bury The Dead, and See Rock City and Other Destinations); sound design is by Walter Trarbach (The Farnsworth Invention, Cymbeline).
The Gym at Judson is a new workout space for the arts in the heart of Greenwich Village. A creative home for both established companies and emerging artists alike, The Gym presents an eclectic mix of new plays and musicals, classics, experimental work, dance, cabaret and music. Occupying the site of a full-size gymnasium with 20-foot ceilings, The Gym is a fully-equipped, multi-use theater, with flexible seating for up to 200.
Queen of the Mist was commissioned by Transport Group Theatre Company and is made possible through major support from The Shen Family Foundation. Founded in 2001, Transport Group, under the leadership of Jack Cummings III, Artistic Director, and Lori Fineman, Executive Director, is a not-for-profit theatre company that develops and produces work by American playwrights and composers with the aim of exploring the American consciousness in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Queen of the Mist plays Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2pm, at The Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson Street at Washington Square South. The evening performance on Saturday, October 29—a gala fundraiser—is at 7:30pm. The schedule for the week of November 8 is Tuesday, Thursday through Saturday at 9pm; Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm; with a Saturday matinee at 4pm. General admission tickets start at $58; premium reserved seating tickets start at $65; opening night tickets are $65; gala fundraiser tickets are $95. The show runs through November 20th.
Note: Join the Twitter Party for the Musical: Tuesday, November 9th @ 9PM, #QueenoftheMist