The thing everyone loved about this show was Mary Testa’s star turn, and I’ll grant you that she does a superb job as Anna Edson Taylor, the historical woman who was the first to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and live. It was written by her longtime associate, Broadway avant-garde composer Michael John Lachiusa, but unfortunately it did not find him in particularly good form. It’s supposed to be a treatise on the nature of celebrity and fleeting fame, but it really has nothing to say about the subject beyond the obvious.
As for the score, it is another attempt by Lachiusa to write ‘lighter’, more accessible music, but the results here are far less interesting than his other efforts in that vein like Little Fish or See What I Wanna See. There are a few good melodies, like the beautiful “Floating Cloud”, the catchy quodlibet “Types Like You/Take a Little Walk”, and the moving finale, “The Fall”, but the score is simply not up to Lachiusa’s usual standards, and too much of it comes across as dull and unmemorable.
On top of that, this show had one of the most severe cases of Second Act Trouble I’ve ever encountered. Since Lachiusa was trying to comment on the consequences of celebrity, you’d think the second act would be where most of the content is, but apart from one clever bit where Taylor meets Presidential assassin Leon Czolgozs, there’s nothing whatsoever of interest until the finale. The act opens with a long, tedious flashback, and from there on it spirals into a downward slide of increasing humiliations for the main character that kills any momentum the show had.
Granted, this isn’t anywhere near as bad as Lachiusa’s last show, the horrific Bernarda Alba, but that’s hardly high praise for this ponderous and depressing vehicle for a talented star who really deserved better.