BWW Interview: Mary Testa in PERICLES at Two River Theatre 4/16 to 5/8
Two River Theater will have Pericles by William Shakespeare onstage from April 16th to May 8th. The show will feature original music and lyrics by multidisciplinary artist Rinde Eckert, who also plays Gower/Old Pericles. Pericles is choreographed by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges and directed by acclaimed theater and opera director David Schweizer.
The first of the Late Romances, this version of Pericles is set in a dive bar at the end of the world, where a group of barflies and musicians gather to tell Shakespeare's epic story of adventure, loss, redemption, and miraculous resurrections. With more than twenty songs and continuous underscoring, Eckert and the on-stage band will play an eclectic assortment of instruments including hammered dulcimer, toy piano, and steel drum. Mary Testa plays Lord of Tyre 1/Fisherman 2/Knight/Lychorida/Cerimon/Bawd in the TRT production. Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Testa about her career and the show.
Testa is the recipient of Two Tony nominations, one Lucille Lortel nomination, four Drama Desk nominations, two Drama League nominations, an Obie Award for her performances in From Above and On the Town, and a special Drama Desk Award celebrating Queen of the Mist and "Three Decades of Outstanding Work." Broadway: Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu, Chicago, 42nd St, Marie Christine, On the Town, ...Forum, The Rink, Marilyn, Barnum. Opera: Anna Nicole/BAM. Off-Broadway includes First Daughter Suite, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Queen of the Mist, Love Loss..., Regrets Only, See What I Wanna See, First Lady Suite, String of Pearls, A New Brain, Tartuffe, On the Town, In Trousers. Films include: Big Stone Gap, The Mother, Eat Pray Love, The Bounty Hunter, The Out-of-Towners, Sleepers. Much television including recurring on Whoopi, Difficult People, Two Broke Girls, White Collar, and Nurse Jackie. Featured on 11 original cast albums, Mary's new album with Michael Starobin, "Have Faith," is now available.
We asked Mary about her earliest interest in theatre. "I became interested in the thought of becoming an actor when I was a teenager and saw Marcel Marceau a few times. At age 16, I wanted to be a mime but realized that it was a very difficult performing art."
Between high school and college, Testa attended the prestigious Governor's School for the Arts in Rhode Island. She then majored in theatre at the University of Rhode Island. After completing all of her major courses in her junior year, she set out for New York City in September of 1976 to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, a dream that has resulted in an impressive career.
Testa told us about the benefits of being able to perform on stage, in film and television. "If I had to do just one thing, I'd be unhappy. After I was in my first musical in New York City, it took me a long time to get people to understand that about me. I like to work in all the mediums and use the breadth and scope of my talents. I'm proud to have an eclectic career."
We asked Testa for some advice for people wishing to enter the profession. "I speak with young people frequently and I tell them if there's anything else they are interested in besides theatre, do those things as well. Theatre is very difficult. If you can't live without it, do it with all your heart. It's definitely a tough business. But if you can't live without it, go for it." She added, "Actors are an incredible bunch, they put their hearts and souls on the line when they perform."
Testa talked about her role in Pericles. "Before this show, I have done a small amount of Shakespeare. I don't do it regularly but if you're musical, Shakespeare is like music as you make sense of the lines and the rhythm of the words." She encourages metropolitan audiences to see the show. "Come and see Pericles. It will be a very interesting experience."
This is the first time Testa has worked at TRT. "I like it very much, it's a lovely place. I know John Dias and Michael Hurst from the Public Theatre and also the Literary Manager, Anika Chapin. Testa encourages metropolitan audiences to see the show. "Come and see Pericles. It will be a very interesting experience."
Testa has some exciting plans for the future. She will be performing on August 5th at Bard College's "Speiglepent." You can about her new album "Have Faith" with Michael Starobin at http://www.havefaiththealbum.com/. It can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon.
Performances will begin in Two River's Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Saturday, April 16 and continue through Sunday, May 8. The opening night performance is Friday, April 22 at 8pm. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or at www.tworivertheater.org. The lead producer is Investment Bank.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mary Testa