DIVA TALK: Catching Up with Tony Winner and Sister Act Star Victoria Clark

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15 Apr 2011

Clark in Sister Act.
photo by Joan Marcus

Clark, who previously worked with director Zaks in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls, says her current role has allowed her to examine her own religious beliefs more fully. "All of the questions about my own faith and my faith journey have come into play and have definitely been a part of working on this character. You can't play a person who is a nun or a priest or a minister... without examining your own beliefs and your own journey and your own relationship with God... I told a friend of mine that if you put a wire mesh screen that is as tall as a person in front of me, I feel like I have been pressed through the mesh of the screen and come out, and all the cells have reassembled, but, sort of changed forever, somehow, from this."

Clark says that that exploration of her character has affected her religious beliefs "in a good way — in a total good way! Just exploring Catholicism has been beautiful because there are so many parts of it that I didn't know. Growing up as a Protestant, we just went to church. Now, I'm a United Methodist, where everything gets decided around the table, so there is food all the time, everywhere. There is such a structure in Catholicism and so many different people that you can pray to. And learning about the saints, and learning about marriage intersession, and learning about all the different nuns and the orders, it's just fascinating how much there is to learn. That is one of the things that I love about being an actor. You have to really research these things and find out, and it's been a great learning experience."

When asked whether she has a favorite moment for the Mother Superior, Clark says, "Well, I think, for me, definitely the most cathartic moment is the end of the show when she is able to really see her weakness and see Deloris clearly — the part that Patina is playing — to see the potential for a friendship. That for me is certainly the most real moment." Clark says co-star Miller, who received an Olivier nomination for her work in the musical's London premiere, is "an angel. She is an absolute, positive angel. You ask her everyday how she is, she's great. You ask her how's it going, it's great. I think her part — she knows who this woman is, but it's a page one rewrite, so it would be like saying, 'Yes, we know who this person is, but now let's start completely over with what her journey is and what she does,' so she's had to relearn, not the music [but the scenes]... She is taking everything in stride, and she is taking good care of herself. This show is going to be major for her."

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

And, what does this superior mother's son, Thomas Luke, who is now 17, think of the show? "He saw the show last weekend and said, 'Okay, here's the deal…,' and he started giving me his notes, and I was like 'Okay.' He was right about everything; his eye is so good. He was saying things like, 'Watch your spine. ...  You can use the height of your spine a little bit more.' And I was thinking, 'You don't want to be an actor, why?' He's just got this beautiful eye, and his feedback is really interesting."

Clark says TL, as he is called, is "the soccer jock. He is a big soccer star. His team is two-time state champions. He is captain of that team. His high school team won the all-city New York City championship. So he is like a soccer champion," she says with a laugh. "He's a great kid and a wonderful student. But, in terms of aspirations, he doesn't know yet, but if it involved going to college and playing soccer for a varsity soccer team, he'd be very happy."

Both mother and son, it seems, are in equally good places. "I'm a lucky girl, and I'm really thrilled to be back on Broadway.... Because Lincoln Center was Broadway, but it wasn't like this. It wasn't like the Broadway commercial machine in motion. You know, it's gentle and protected and [Piazza] was such a special, very special project. It is hard to even describe that experience because it was so spiritual to me, also.

"But this is a major commercial, Broadway show that has a lot of T-shirts on sale in the lobby," Clark laughs, "with a lot of sequins. … I'm looking around going, 'Wow!' Here we are, we're back. This is my 11th Broadway show... They don't get easier, and they don't get any less fun. It's just sort of familiar, like, 'Here we go.' And, previews are previews no matter what the project is. You got to get through them, you got to get through the changes, you got to make sure you get your rest, and we are in the thick of it now, so we are sort of on the home stretch. We are very excited to get it open and get into the run of it!"

[The Broadway Theatre is located at 1681 Broadway. For tickets phone (212) 239-6200, or visit Telecharge.com. Visit SisterActtheMusical.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

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