PLAYBILL VIP SPOTLIGHT: NYC High School Staging of Light in the Piazza Hits Home With Tony Winner Victoria Clark

By Adam Hetrick
18 Apr 2013

Thomas Luke and mother Victoria Clark
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

TL was lured off the soccer field after seeing Beacon's production of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening, which Cimato directed at the school in 2012. "When we did Spring Awakening he seemed frustrated. He would sit in on rehearsals. His friends were in it, and I think he was maybe a little jealous," Cimato said. "I remember him seeing Spring Awakening, and pulling me aside and saying, 'I'm in next year. I don't care what I have to do.'"

TL's theatrical lineage with Piazza didn't affect Cimato's casting for the production, but it did provide the school with a built-in resource when it came time for rehearsals. Cimato fell in love with Light in the Piazza after seeing the Lincoln Center Theater run, and despite the challenges presented by the operatic piece, she had been mulling a student production of it for several years.

"I thought it was going to be a huge challenge, and Vicki came to an event at the school last spring and said, 'I want to help you do this. How can we make this happen?,'" Cimato recalled. "She had the utmost confidence in me, our music director and our program, and that gave me the confidence to say, 'Let's do this. We're going to have the support.'"

Clark made good on her word, attending rehearsals and working with students on the music and acting scenes. The Tony winner said it would be easy for her to walk in and explain how the original production was staged, however, she felt, "It really doesn't matter, it was eight years ago. It's more important that they find the way that they want to do it."

Beacon students, many of whom hail from families with parents in the arts profession, were unfazed when Clark walked into the rehearsal room. "I think a lot of people knew who my mom was, because when there was the option of doing the show, everyone sort of looked it up, and they found out inevitably," TL said. "But the really cool thing about this process is that the kids have said, 'Your mom was in the show – that's awesome. She's really talented.' But they'd also say, 'We're really happy to be doing this with you, no matter who your mom is.' One of the things that I was really keen on, coming into this, was that I wanted to really make the show my own in a different way than my mom did – in a special way but a different way. So, they knew who she was, but we also, collectively as a group, really created this for ourselves."

"When Vicki is here, she's a mom," Cimato said. "She's not Victoria Clark Broadway star – she's TL's mom. We know her and we love her, and she's the friendliest and most-generous person. She'll wrap her arms around you from behind, and in her sweet Texas accent, say 'OK, how can I help? Can I bring cookies?'"