Former URI Theatre student Mary Testa nominated for Tony Award

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Mary Testa
Mary Testa nominated for a 2019 Tony Award for her role in Oklahoma!. Mary Testa photo.

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 8, 2019 – Theater actress Mary Testa, who grew up in North Providence, and studied acting at the University of Rhode Island, was recently nominated for a 2019 Tony Award. Testa was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma!.” The Tony Awards recognize excellence in live Broadway theater. 

Testa has significant theater credentials, having been nominated for a Tony twice before, in 1999 and 2001, for roles in “On the Town” and “42nd Street.” She’s also been nominated for Outer Critics Circle Awards and a number of Drama Desk Awards, including a 2019 nomination also recognizing her work in “Oklahoma!.” She has won numerous film awards, including a Maverick Movie Award, a Melbourne Indie Film Festival Award and a Wild Rose Independent Film Festival Award for her role in a 2015 film short, “The Mother.

“It’s truly wonderful and gratifying to be recognized for my work,” said Testa. Of her time as a theater student at URI, she added, “URI really set me on my path and gave me experiences, friendships and a great foundation in acting, which has helped me achieve so much.”

Testa said during her time at URI, working with theater Professor Judith Swift made a lasting impression.

“Mary Testa was the one who made a lasting impression,” said Swift, now director of the Coastal Institute along with serving as theater and communications professor. “Her talent was immediately apparent. She had warmth, wit and vocal chops to rival the best of Broadway performers. Mary’s Tony is long overdue.”

Known today as a powerful singing talent, Testa looks back fondly on her time at URI, where she landed her first singing role when a Rockefeller Grant brought a production of William Finn’s “Scrambled Eggs” to Kingston. Her relationship with writer/composer Finn, which began at URI, would become pivotal in the early days of her theater career in New York, and her Off-Broadway debut, in 1979, would be as Miss Goldberg in Finn’s one-act musical, “In Trousers.”

The Tony Awards will be broadcast from New York City on June 9.