Tony-winning Dallasite Victoria Clark comes home for concert with TWCD
MARK LOWRY | email@example.com
2400 Flora St.
Dec. 19. 7 p.m. $20–$48. 214-520-7828.
Broadway was not what Victoria Clark had expected.
The Hockaday School graduate always knew she wanted to perform, studying opera in Austria and at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy and matriculating Yale University before headed for New York’s Great White Way. She had a vision of what it would be like.
“I thought everyone was going to come to work with big moustaches and capes and be drinking and crazy,” she says, laughing. “But they would say things like ‘I couldn’t find a parking space’ or ‘my son is having trouble in English,’ talking about what normal people talk about. I think I wanted them to be more eccentric.”
Some 25 years after her first show (she was cast as an understudy in Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George), Clark has proven that the normalcy of working in New York theater is just fine — and that you can make a living at it (with insurance and benefits, even).
She had supporting roles in revivals of Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed… and Cabaret, then won a best actress Tony Award in 2006 for the Adam Guettel-Craig Lucas musical The Light in the Piazza. She takes center stage again this weekend, as she returns home to perform with
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas in its annual holiday concert at the Wyly Theatre.
Clark grew up in the Greenway Park area near Inwood Road and Mockingbird Lane. Although her parents weren’t especially artistic, their children found outlets for creativity. Clark’s brothers dabbled in bands, and her sister, Dawn Prestwich, became a screenwriter with an impressive list of television writing credits.
For Clark, though, it was all about singing — something her grandmother encouraged. She also developed a love for it at Hockaday, where she attended all 12 years, and became involved in drama as well.
“I remember that we learned to do everything,” she says. “We made the blintzes for You Can’t Take It With You and then ate them [in the show].”
One of her instructors, Ed Long, who’s still at Hockaday, encouraged her to attend Interlochen. Her choral director at First Community
Church, Don Herman, and Ed DeLatte of the now-closed Dallas Repertory Theatre, were both influential in pushing her to keep training her voice.
So she did, always finding the not-so-strange world of New York theater a welcoming place. She admits there have been many missed opportunities along the way, such as when she didn’t take the offer to workshop one of the Stepsisters in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (“When you get in early in a job like that, unless you kick someone in the shin or something like that, and you do a reasonable job, they ask the same group back”).
But one big opp she wasn’t about to pass over was Margaret Johnson, the American mother on vacation in Italy whose daughter falls for a hunky Italian man (played by Glee’s Matthew Morrison), in The Light in the Piazza.
“We did it three times, in Seattle and Chicago and then New York, and the show kept getting better and better,” she says. “The part was not written for me, but by the end I felt that it was. Pretty quickly they liked what I was doing with it.”
But even after 20 years of working in New York at that point, she was still not always confident. “Like every project, every day I was afraid I would get the call and they would tell me I was going to be replaced. Luckily Adam is very picky about voices and he liked my singing. That’s the one thing I could bring: I have a distinctive sound.”
That sound might bring her to Broadway again this spring, in a project that she can’t talk about yet. And it’s one that will charm audiences on
Sunday night with the Women’s Chorus. She’ll sing “Fable,” her big number from Piazza, as well as songs from her 2008 debut record, Fifteen Seconds of Grace, along with carols with the chorus.
And it’s a good bet that there won’t be any eccentrics with moustaches and capes hanging backstage — unless you count Santa.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.