Victoria Clark - Sister Act's Mother Superior on BroadwayOctober 3, 2011 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
Even though she comes from Protestant stock (“I was brought up in a Congregational Church as a child”) and had her first encounter of the Catholic Church kind in recent years when she became seriously involved with an Irish Catholic and attended Mass with his parents “fairly often,” Victoria Clark is thoroughly believable as the beleaguered Mother Superior compelled to open the doors of her convent to the conspicuously un-nunlike nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (Patina Miller) in the miraculous (and endearingly madcap) musical Sister Act.
For those unfamiliar with Clark’s work, you’re in for an eye-opening treat once you score tickets to this stage adaptation of the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film. Indeed, in New York theatre circles Clark is considered a theatrical treasure, having won the 2005 trophy trifecta (Tony, Drama Desk & Outer Critics Circle Awards) for her stunning work in The Light in the Piazza and for putting a formidable stamp on every show she’s graced, from Titanic and Urinetown on Broadway, to her recent run in Off-Broadway’s Love, Loss and What I Wore.
But it’s in Sister Act that the veteran actor’s wry comic delivery and facial expressions become the perfect counterpoint to the Miller’s wisecracking siren in nun’s clothing. In short, the chemistry between the two is one of the show’s main attractions. That, and the glorious singing voices they get to meld, notably in the duet “Here Within These Walls,” and with the reprise of the title number.
“[Patina] is a hilarious person with a giant heart, and I love working with her so much. I get a lump in my throat every night when I sing to her at the end of the show,” says Clark.
“No matter what faith you profess, you feel God in the theater,” she continues. “I think that is why audiences go wild—they feel connected to something bigger and better than themselves.”
And go wild they do, not only during the standing ovation at the end but also during the show, when an “Amen!” or “You go, sister!” is heard from the crowd.
“It’s feedback like that...that makes being an actor so rewarding,” concludes Clark. “Think of putting that makeup on eight times a week, the family time we miss, the sacrifices... But this is why I wanted to become an actor: to make a difference, to inspire... to collaborate, make mistakes, learn, express, [and] have fun, too!”