PHOTO CALL: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chris Rock, Salman Rushdie and More Celebrate Opening Night of The Testament of Mary, Starring Fiona Shaw

By Matthew Blank
23 Apr 2013

Irish novelist Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, starring Tony Award nominee and four-time Olivier Award-winning actress Fiona Shaw as Mary, the mother of Jesus, officially opened on Broadway April 22 at the Walter Kerr Theatre.



Shaw reunites with director Deborah Warner for the one-woman work that is playing a limited 12-week engagement through June 16. The Testament of Mary began previews March 26. 



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Fiona Shaw
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The production marks the first collaboration between Shaw and Warner to premiere in the U.S. The two have earned acclaim for their work on Medea, Happy Days, Mother Courage, Hedda Galber, The Good Person of Sichuan and The Waste Land.

The stage production is based on Tóibín's 96-page novel, which imagines a new account of Christ, one in which his mother questions her son's death, his divinity and the followers who called him the son of God. It was released in 2012. 

Shaw spoke about the play in a recent feature with Playbill. "Mary is an icon, and a symbol," who "has probably been filtered in our lives through Renaissance paintings and childhood religion. She's a very distant figure. But this novel maps out a landscape in which this woman has to cope with her son's self-destruction," to try to understand the reasons for his death, "which is agony for her," she said.

"Theatre is an imaginative frame, so the play takes place now," she continued. "The story is in many people's minds now — 2,000 years after the events, the story continues. And like all stories, it has embellishments — different colors, different aspects. So it is going on now. I went last week to see the Piero Della Francesa exhibit at the Frick Collection. In the 15th century, they painted the Virgin as a 15th-century woman. So in this play, you meet her as a 21st-century mother. But the events refer to a time when the Romans did crucify their dissidents."

Read the full interview here. 

As previously reported by Playbill.com, the first preview of the controversial play on March 26 was met with protests from a Catholic group. Read more about it here.

The producers are Scott Rudin (The Book of Mormon, "The Social Network"), Stuart Thompson, Jon B. Platt, Roger Berlind, Broadway Across America, Scott M. Delman, Jean Doumanian, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sonia Friedman Productions/Robert G. Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth and Eli Bush. The production has set design by Tom Pye, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and original music and sound design by Mel Mercier.

According to producers, "In The Testament of Mary the mother of Jesus tells her story of her son’s Crucifixion."

Garry Hynes staged a 2011 premiere of the work starring Marie Mullen at the Dublin Theater Festival. That project, billed Testament, gave life to the novel. 

Tóibín's works include "The Blackwater Lightship," "The Master," "The South, Homage to Barcelona," "The Heather Blazing," "The Story of the Night" and "Brooklyn."

Walter Kerr Theatre is located at 219 West 48th Street. Tickets are available at the Walter Kerr Theatre box office, at telecharge.com and testamentonbroadway.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.