THEATERMANIA: When did you first hear about this production?
MARY TESTA: About five years ago, Jack Cummings III, who is Transport Group's artistic director, gave Michael John LaChiusa and me this book to read called Queen of the Mist. I read the book and cried for three days. It was the same with Michael, who also lived near Niagara Falls. It took a while for the whole production to pan out. We did a workshop last year. I love Michael John and his material, and that they created this role for me.
TM: What kind of research went into the role?
MT: I read all about her. I read the book and saw a reenactment, on the computer, of her going over Niagara Falls. I am using my own instincts as well.
TM: How would you describe Anna?
MT: Anna is very much ahead of her time; the show takes place between 1900 and 1920. She is a genius and a loner. She was inept at forging close relationships. People didn't understand her. She had a husband who died and a son who died six days after he was born. And then she became the one woman who outwitted Niagara Falls. She chose this path.
TM: Why did she decide to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?
MT: She had no money - she ran through everything her mother left her - and she was at the end of her rope. She had nobody to help her and did this out of desperation. It was a way to be infamous and rich, and to go down in history.
TM: What went through her mind after she survived?
MT: She was in shock and had to recuperate in a hotel. She thought things would be great, but they weren't.
TM: What kind of barrel will you have on stage?
MT: Everyone is asking that! We are going to use lights. It's not a real barrel; it's more artistic than that.
TM: What have you learned from this production?
MT: So far, I have learned to trust my instincts and pace myself. I also learned to be a better collaborator than I was to begin with.
Click Here to watch a clip reel from Queen of the Mist
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