Entertainment » Music

Queen of the Mist - Original Cast Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Wednesday Jun 13, 2012
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Gypsy Rose Lee. Eva Peron. Annie Oakley. These are famous women who have had musical biographies written about them. Now Jack Cummings III and the Transport Group Theatre Company have added Anna Edson Taylor to this list as they presented "Queen of the Mist," a new musical with book, lyrics and music by Michael John LaChiusa ("Hello Again," "See What I Wanna See," "The House of Bernarda Alba") during the fall of 2011. The score has now been released on Ghostlight Records.

Taylor (1838-1921) was an intelligent, headstrong woman unable to find a purpose in her life. Granted an inheritance after the death of her father and widowed young after her husband was killed in the Civil War, she lived on her savings, desperate to maintain a lifestyle beyond her means. That was until 1901, when she decided to jump Horseshoe Falls (one of the three falls of Niagara) in a barrel. She survived the stunt - becoming the first person to do so. However, with dreams of financial success from her accomplishment, Taylor failed to gain her expected wealth, primarily due to a combination of an embezzling manager and her own abrasive personality, and she died a pauper.

Cummings brought in both LaChiusa and actress Mary Testa to bring this complicated woman to life. Testa is a frequent interpreter of LaChiusa’s work, and admirably proves her ability to effectively navigate his score, and yet she still provides the humanity necessary to pull off this potentially unlikable woman.

LaChiusa has proven himself an accomplished and knowledgeable creator of works in both the musical theater and opera worlds. His music is accessible, yet complex, drawing the listener into the world of the story and challenging them to take away more than merely hummable show tunes, without offending them into leaving the experience too early. Mixing various musical styles, all centered on the turn of the 20th century, LaChiusa has written another timeless score that should attract a subset of regional theaters that seek out these works (along with musicals such as "Sweeney Todd" and "Floyd Collins") for future productions.


"Queen of the Mist - Original Cast Recording"
Michael John LaChiusa
CD / Digital formats
Ghostlight Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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