Interview with Mary Testa
The next 3 interviewees have all won awards for their work in theater, film and TV. They are honored and respected by their colleagues but two of them are virtually unknown outside of their profession. They have all struggled with and overcome significant obstacles, in order to achieve the skill they have achieved and the recognition of their peers. Another thing they have in common is their remarkable candor, openness, unselfconsciousness, self-deprecation and amazing generosity.
Mary Testa is a working actress, singer, dancer, Jill of all trades in the theatre, and winner of a Drama Desk Award for “3 decades of excellent work.” Most recently she starred as the intrepid Annie Edson Taylor in the musical Queen of the Mist, which was written for her by composer, lyricist and librettist Michael John Lachiusa, who has himself been nominated for several Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Like the character she plays in Queen of the Mist, Mary Testa “has greatness in her.” She found a way to survive a childhood which didn’t celebrate her. In Catholic school she was treated very badly because she “everything she wasn’t supposed to be;” Italian, when the nuns were Irish, curly haired and breasted, when the norm was straight hair and a flat-chest, out-spoken and defiant, when good girls were quiet and obedient. Refusing to go to Catholic High School Mary attended the public high school where she was the new kid in town and therefore, once more, odd man out. But Mary would not be suppressed and developed a full out – in your face – “I will say what everyone is thinking but no one else will say,” personality. Accompanying this outgoing personal style is Mary’s prodigious talent and that is what has kept her working in theater. Listen to this guile-less, passionate, funny, thoughtful woman talk about her life and her work, and hear her glorious voice in snippets from Queen of the Mist.