Cinderella's Victoria Clark Is Ready to Revisit the Life-Changing Piazza
June 17th, 2014
by Josh Ferri
Tony Award winner and three-time nominee Victoria Clark is making magic as Marie, the crazy beggar lady who transforms into the beautiful and powerful fairy godmother, in the lush revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
A theatrical treasure, Clark’s resume over the last 20 years includes the acclaimed Broadway productions of Guys & Dolls, A Grand Night for Singing, Titanic, Cabaret, Urinetown and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying—her Smitty was comic gold; you should YouTube her “Been A Long Day” ASAP.
And of course, who didn’t love her as Mother Superior in the musical adaptation of Sister Act? The Tony nominators sure did. #WatchOutMaggieSmith
But it was her Tony-winning performance as Margaret Johnson, a protective Southern mother visiting Italy with her daughter, in the Tony-winning musical The Light in the Piazza that Clark holds most dear. Below, the Cinderella star reveals to BroadwayBox why she considers that 2005 production a game-changing moment in her life and career.
From the moment I heard the first note of music, I knew I was born to play that part. I felt a huge connection to it and very proprietary about it from the very beginning. Way even before I auditioned for it, I felt it had belonged to me a long time ago somehow and that it was just resurfacing. The first time I heard “Fable” in my living— I had only heard a couple bars—I just started to sob and I couldn’t stop. And I called Adam [Guettel, composer] up and said, “I just heard ‘Fable’ what do I have to do to get an audition for this part?”
And he called back and said, “You’re great and I love you, but you’re way too young.”
And I called him back and left message saying, “That’s why God invented wigs.”
And that was the beginning of my love affair with this piece and it’s not even over. I’m dying to do it again; I don’t care where or when. The experience of doing [Light in the Piazza] was life changing for me. It was my first time carrying a show and not being the understudy, and I felt my whole career had led up to that moment. Every experience I had had come together: observing people, rehearsing, playing funny parts, sad parts, a mute deaf clown, Southern women, strange women, horrible women. It was the first time I got nominated for anything. I had been around forever, having a great career I thought, but it changed my visibility. And the Tony was the icing on the cake; I had already felt in myself that I had achieved something I had never achieved before.
More than that, it was a journey I looked forward to taking every single night as an actor. We all know when you get in a long run, there are shows that become very difficult to put your shoes on and your makeup and go out there. And this particular story was so interesting and heartfelt for me that I looked forward to telling the story every single show.
Every career has ups and downs and it’s important for everyone to remember that the peaks and valleys is part of what you sign up for when you decide you want to go into this crazy business. Any peak should be celebrated; we’re so blessed we have any at all. And for me, this was a group victory, I benefited from being in such a masterfully conceived and written production. I’ll always be proud of and very grateful to Lincoln Center Theater for producing it. It was the chance of a lifetime.
See Clark in action and lose yourself in The Light in the Piazza video below, and don’t miss the opportunity to hear that voice live in Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre.