DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Winner and Cinderella Star Victoria Clark

By Andrew Gans
15 Feb 2013

Clark performs at a Cinderella press preview.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Clark, who has also graced the Broadway stage in productions of Guys and Dolls, A Grand Night for Singing, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Cabaret, Urinetown and an especially poignant portrayal of second-class passenger Alice Beane in the Tony-winning Titanic, spends much time researching her roles, often traveling to distant locations to soak up an environment that would be familiar to her character. Yet, what is a dedicated actor to do when one's role is part of a fairytale? "Well, you look at myths," answered Clark, "so I've been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, all those interviews that they did — they published a series of interviews called 'The Power of Myths.'… And, a lot of it is very spiritual for me, so I'm reading my favorite spiritual authors, like Anne Lamott and Barbara Kingsolver. Those are the people that I like to have in front of me. And then, of course, I'm reading a lot about Alexander Technique because that's my new obsession — everything that he would say about breath and relaxing. It's really interesting. I'm having a ball."

And, how does librettist Beane's version of the Cinderella fairytale differ from its previous incarnations?

"Well," the actress explained, "I think in broad terms you could say that it's like when you find an old house that's gorgeous and charming, and you love the structure of it, and you don't want anything to change its historic value or significance, so you kind of landmark it, and you work from there — that's what this feels like. He's taken the bones of a show, which was a teleplay, and not really Broadway-show length, and added a few rooms and kept it very much in character of the original charm, with Rodgers and Hammerstein [Organization]'s blessing… He's kept the charm and the intent and the bones of a really iconic, old story that's thousands of years old. In every culture, there's a 'Cinderella' story — Chinese culture, Eastern Europe is full of them, and they're everywhere, and they've been around thousands of years — so he researched all of those, pulled from the best of all the different traditions, added some characters that were not in the original, and is saying what he wants to say about the story. So what you look at when you see it is the iconic fairytale, but then, when you open the door and you go inside, you see, 'Oh, this is modern at the same time, but very much in keeping with the old bones.'

Clark in The Light in the Piazza.
photo by Joan Marcus



"And then you have people like [music adapter, supervisor and arranger] David Chase," Clark continued. "I mean, who's more brilliant than David Chase? He comes in and works with R&H and Andy Einhorn, our conductor, and the two of them have worked with Bruce [Pomahac] and Ted [Chapin] at R&H, and they have drawn from the trunks of R&H and found material that really suits the show, and so the score is very much of a piece, and there are some songs that were not in the original teleplay. They've done a brilliant job." Among the songs that Clark gets to wrap her soaring soprano around are "Impossible" and "There's Music in You," the latter a new addition to the score.

About director Brokaw, the Drama Desk-winning director of How I Learned to Drive who was represented on Broadway last season with the critically acclaimed The Lyons, Clark said, "He's very kind. He's very patient. He doesn't get in an actor's business. He's very astute, so he watches our process, and he sees us working stuff out, but he doesn't get in the middle of it, so, for me personally, it's been a joy because I'm still figuring so many things out, and he sees me working on things, and then he'll guide and direct… He's looking at the process, and he's been very, very good shaping the material, and he has a very good overarching vision for the piece. And, I think, aesthetically, the way this moves — the way he's worked with Anna Louizos and William Ivey Long and Kenneth Posner, the designers — is seamless. I don't think there's a single blackout in the show. It's very cinematic."

 Continued...