Testa at Gimme a Break Gala, December 2011
Mary Testa (born June 4, 1955) is an American stage and film actress and singer. She is a three-time Tony Award nominee, for performances in revivals of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town (1998), 42nd Street (2001) and Oklahoma (2019).
Testa was born in Philadelphia and has one sister. At age four, her family moved to Rhode Island. She studied acting at the University of Rhode Island. Testa left school to move to New York in 1976 to pursue a performing career.
Testa made her debut Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons as Miss Goldberg in William Finn's one-act musical In Trousers (1979), part one of his "Marvin Trilogy." She next performed in Finn's March of the Falsettos, and later in Company, at Playwrights.
Her Broadway roles include Joyce Heth in Barnum (1982), movie columnist Hedda Hopper in Marilyn: An American Fable (1983), Angel in The Rink (1984), Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1996–1997), Madame Dilly in On the Town (1998), Magdalena in Marie Christine, Maggie Jones in 42nd Street (2001–2002), the Matron in Chicago (2005), Melpomene in Xanadu (2007–2008), General Matilda B. Cartwright in Guys and Dolls (2009), Madame Morrible in Wicked (2014), and Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! (2019).
She is a frequent collaborator with such acclaimed musical dramatists as William Finn (Infinite Joy, A New Brain, In Trousers) and Michael John LaChiusa (Marie Christine, See What I Wanna See, First Lady Suite), while also having appeared in the works of Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Flaherty & Ahrens, and Leonard Bernstein, among other Off-Broadway and regional theatre credits. She also frequently performs in concerts and cabaret shows.
Film, television and recording
Testa made her film debut in Going in Style (1979), and has appeared in numerous movie and television roles since, including Sophia in the 2003 sitcom Whoopi, Zia Maria Luisa in the 2014 film Big Stone Gap, and Sister Clare in the 2004 film adaptation of Tony n' Tina's Wedding. She also appeared in such films as The Business of Strangers (2001), Stay (2005), Eat Pray Love (2010), The Bounty Hunter (2010) and the TV series Law & Order, Whoopi's Littleburg, 2 Broke Girls, Smash, White Collar, Cosby, Sex and the City, and Life on Mars.
In addition to her show albums, Testa and Michael Starobin released an album, Have Faith, in 2014. It contains contemporary interpretations of songs by artists such as Alanis Morissette, Prince, The Beach Boys, Leonard Cohen, Finn and LaChiusa.
Selected stage credits
- Miss Goldberg in In Trousers (1979)
- Angel Antonelli in The Rink (1984)
- Rita La Porta in Lucky Stiff (1988 & 2003)
- Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1996)
- Lisa in A New Brain (1998)
- Madame Maude P. Dilly in On the Town (1998)
- Magdalena in Marie Christine (1999)
- Fanny Brice in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 (Encores! Production) (1999)
- Dorine in Tartuffe (2000)
- Maggie Jones in 42nd Street (2001)
- Various roles in String of Pearls (2003)
- Lorena Hickock in First Lady Suite (2004)
- Matron "Mamma" Morton in Chicago (2005)
- The Medium/Aunt Monica in See What I Wanna See (2006)
- Melpomene in Xanadu (2007)
- General Cartwright in Guys and Dolls (2009)
- Love, Loss, and What I Wore (2010)
- Anna Edson Taylor in Queen of the Mist (2011)
- Madame Morrible in Wicked (2014)
- Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! (2018–2019)
Selected concert appearances
- Broadway Unplugged 2004 ("Hard-Hearted Hannah: The Vamp of Savannah")
- Broadway Unplugged 2005 ("The Thrill is Gone")
- The Broadway Musicals of 1930 ("I Happen to Like New York" and "My First Love—My Last Love")
- The Broadway Musicals of 1933 ("I'll Be Hard to Handle" and "Harlem on My Mind")
Awards and nominations
|1999||Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||On The Town||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2004||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||First Lady Suite||Nominated|
|2005||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play||String of Pearls||Nominated|
|2006||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||See What I Wanna See||Nominated|
|2012||Special Award||Queen of the Mist||Nominated|
|2016||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||First Daughter Suite||Nominated|
|Irvine International Film Festival||Best Actress||The Mother||Nominated|
|Maverick Movie Awards||Best Actress: Short||Won|
|Melbourne Indie Film Festival||Best Actress in a Short||Won|
|Portsmouth International Film Festival||Leading Actress in a Short||Nominated|
|Wild Rose Independent Film Festival||Best Actress - Short Film||Won|
|2018||Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play||The Government Inspector||Nominated|
|2019||Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Oklahoma!||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2020||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Nominated|
- "Mary Testa Awards". IBDB: The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- Buckley, Michael. "Stage to Screens: A Chat with Mary Testa", Playbill, December 21, 2003, accessed December 19, 2014
- Bird, Alan. Mary Testa, NewYorkTheatreGuide, December 20, 2010, accessed December 19, 2014
- Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: Chatting with Xanadu's Mary Testa Plus News of Buckley, Kuhn and Callaway", Playbill, August 3, 2007, accessed December 19, 2014
- "Mary Testa Theatre Credits". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Mary Testa News". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Mary Testa". IMDb. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Wicked's Mary Testa and Michael Starobin Release Have Faith Album", TheatreMania, November 4, 2014
- Holdenjan, Stephen. Music Review; “Fleeting Sweetness, and Pits; Mary Testa, Onstage With Selections From Have Faith”. New York Times. January 6, 2015
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2013-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)