Mary Testa

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Mary Testa
Mary Testa 2011 (2) (cropped).jpg
Testa at Gimme a Break Gala, December 2011
Born (1955-06-04) June 4, 1955 (age 63)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1979—present

Mary Testa (born June 4, 1955) is an American stage and film actress and singer. She is a two-time Tony Award nominee, for performances in revivals of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town (1998) and 42nd Street (2001).[1]

Early life[edit]

Testa was born in Philadelphia and has one sister. At age four, her family moved to Rhode Island.[2] She studied acting at the University of Rhode Island.[3] Testa left school to move to New York in 1976 to pursue a performing career.[4]


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."[5] She next performed in Finn's March of the Falsettos, and later in Company, at Playwrights.[2][4]

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) and Madame Morrible in Wicked (2014).[5]

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.[5] She also frequently performs in concerts and cabaret shows.[6]

Film, television and recording[edit]

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, 2 Broke Girls, Smash, White Collar, Cosby, Sex and the City, and Life on Mars.[7]

From 1999 to 2002 she appeared frequently as the voice of Shirley the Medium on Courage the Cowardly Dog.[7]

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.[8][9]

Selected stage credits[edit]

Selected concert appearances[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1999 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical On The Town Nominated
2001 42nd Street 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
2008 Xanadu 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


  1. ^ "Mary Testa Awards". IBDB: The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b Buckley, Michael. "Stage to Screens: A Chat with Mary Testa", Playbill, December 21, 2003, accessed December 19, 2014
  3. ^ Bird, Alan. Mary Testa, NewYorkTheatreGuide, December 20, 2010, accessed December 19, 2014
  4. ^ a b 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
  5. ^ a b c "Mary Testa Theatre Credits". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Mary Testa News". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Mary Testa". IMDb. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Wicked's Mary Testa and Michael Starobin Release Have Faith Album", TheatreMania, November 4, 2014
  9. ^ Holdenjan, Stephen. Music Review; “Fleeting Sweetness, and Pits; Mary Testa, Onstage With Selections From Have Faith”. New York Times. January 6, 2015
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2013-08-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]