I don’t often do reviews here on Beccarama. I have plenty of opinions, but I’m not a technical reviewer who parses the ins and out of products – unless it’s something I really, really want to talk about. I have been a theater and movie geek since I was old enough to waddle into a theater. I was one of those 5-year-old kids who could sit through a 2 hour movie, ballet or musical and barely blink, let alone squirm. It was always magical and engrossing to me. Growing up in NYC meant I had access to the best of everything – and performing arts was top of that list. So, when I was invited to join a new blogger group of women bloggers called Mama Drama co-founded by Holly Rosen Fink (theculturemama) I immediately said yes and I will now be reviewing all of the productions I see on Beccarama.
This past week I saw a new production, currently in previews, produced by the Transport Group Theatre Company called Queen of the Mist. The production takes place at the Gym at Judson – the space is an actual gym that has been transformed into a performance space – the seats are on either side and the action takes place in the center and sides, level with the first row of the audience. It’s very intimate, and for an intense production like Queen of the Mist, quite powerful. Here’s the background from the plays’ producers:
Based on an astounding, outrageous, and haunting 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 that
there is greatness in her and determined not to live as ordinary, she sets out
to battle her fear and tempt her fate. With a score that incorporates turn of
the century themes with signature LaChiusa elements, Queen of the Mist is
the story of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she
Anna Edson Taylor was the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. The Queen of the Mist refers to the barrel itself. It’s a story steeped in turn of the century Americana, touching on the temperance movement, WWI, and the beginnings of ginned up public relations. In a way it’s the precursor to modern reality TV.
The musical written by Michael John LaChiusa and directed by Jack Cummings is emotionally and musically complex and intense. The cast is exceptionally strong, led by Mary Testa as Anna Edson Taylor. Being that close to the actors is a very different experience than a typical Broadway show where the music, dancing and singing are kept at a distance, where you are always aware there is an invisible wall between them and you. In this sort of space the strength and power of the acting – not just the amazing voices – is what surrounds you. The connections between the actors, the truthfulness of their emotions and reality of their space were the most compelling part of the show. It’s absolutely worth seeing for those performances alone.
Here’s a video of the cast meet and greet:
For $10 off the ticket price enter code: TGMAMA