Tony Award winning actress/singer Victoria Clark is currently co-starring in Follies at the Ahmanson in the complex role of Sally Durant Plummer. In our chat, she talks about Follies, Sondheim and some of her other favorite roles.
What is it like playing Sally Durant in Follies?
It is a complete joy and thrill. It is one of my all time favorite roles. She is complicated and wonderful, and I love her. I understand what she is going through, and I have great sympathy, empathy, and compassion for her. And she is a puzzle in many ways--lots of exploring and digging to do.
Every role comes with intrinsic highs and lows. The joys and challenges for me are making every character I play human and believable. Sally has beautiful music to sing, to express what she is going through--this score makes this role a particular delight.
And its greatest challenges?
The biggest challenge is not to make Sally a victim. I don't think she is. I don't like to see women onstage who are victimized. I prefer to see and play characters in such a way that we see them pull through their set of circumstances and obstacles with dignity and as much poise as they can muster. Another challenge are the short scenes. They are snapshots of a much bigger picture of characters with a 30-year history. That back story has to be in place as well as details; then, the scenes themselves are like eavesdropping into seismic personal rifts and discoveries.
What do you like about Stephen Sondheim's work?
Sondheim 's work has a complexity and depth that are a dream for me and most actors. The more you dig, the more your find. He is the goldmine of thinking actors, and has made our whole world so much better for the work he has produced. He has given us permission to look at ourselves in an honest and unflinching way, which can be both a comfort and a catalyst.
Was it difficult stepping into this role just for this LA engagement?
Yes, it was difficult in the most joyous way imaginable. With colleagues onstage beside me like Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, Jan Maxwell, and Elaine Paige, how could this experience be anything but remarkable? Eric Schaeffer, Warren Carlisle, and James Moore allowed me the space and time to truly create, and that was an immeasurable gift. The creating is still ongoing--there is always more to solve--the learning never stops. And life itself should be a constant process of educating ourselves--rehearsal and real life walk hand in hand.
Talk a little about Light in the Piazza.
The role of a lifetime in the most beautiful musical ever written. What more can I say?
Talk a little about Sister Act and your role in that.
A wonderful journey with long-time friend and director Jerry Zaks, and my first time working with Alan Menken. Also a joy.
What is your most favorite role to date? Why?
Well, of course Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza will always be at the top of my list. She is soulful, funny, complicated, resilient, and romantic. And a Southener! Everything I personally strive to be. Playing that part made me a better mother and a better person. The whole experience was filled with a kind of grace for me. Piazza taught me a lot about forgiveness and letting go. And I was introduced to the remarkable Adam Guettel, Craig Lucas, and Bartlett Sher who all showed me the way and gave me their trust.
Is there a part you're itching to do?
Not really. I go with the flow. There are several projects on the stove.. Life and work have to be balanced; I have learned that. My life has been blessed. It seems that the right roles find me at just the right time in my life when I can provide the insight and skill set needed to allow the character to jump off the page. I have worked with so many of our business' greatest writers, directors, and actors, and learned so much from each one--my life has been nourished and blessed by each person. I just have enormous trust that I will end up where I need to be to make the biggest difference possible.
And that she does! In every single role she plays! Don't miss Victoria Clark in Follies now until June 9!