Who expected to be wowed by a performance in a gym? Well, the Transportation Group Theather Company brought the audience along on quite a ride in their production at The Gym at Judson on Thompson Street in the Village. Playwright / Songwriter Michael John LaCiusa based Queen of the Mist on the story of Anna Edson Taylor (played by Tony-Award-winning Marie Testa) who, at 63, was the first woman to go down Niagra Falls in a barrel in 1901.
How do you create an epic in the long, narrow space between the bleachers on opposite sides of the wall? I was so close to the actors that I had to draw my feet up on my first tier bleacher seat to not trip them. But thanks to the ingenuity of the director, Jack Cummings III (Hello Again, See Rock City and Other Destinations, The Boys in the Band) and the whole production crew, I felt every roll of the waves, every thunk of the barrel, the power of the Falls. With simple props–an old-fashioned piano that was pushed across the stage, small platforms on wheels that became boats, even a toy wooden boat, suggested all that was needed to bring the play home to one’s heart.
In the discussion afterwards (before the cake and the bubbly) Michael John LaChuisa, said LaChuisa confided that if his cat throws up as he’s playing a song, he knows he shouldn’t use it. And what the cat gave a nod to is purrr-fect.
This is a play about how fame can sink you and how risking death can help you live. And it’s about living your dream, no matter where it leads you. Get inspired. See Queen of the Mist.