Interview: Victoria Clark and Jason Danieley talk BROADWAY TODAY! BROADWAY'S MODERN MASTERS

Broadway performers to present new concert with Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, June 6-7, and Tanglewood, on July 6

By: May. 30, 2024
Interview: Victoria Clark and Jason Danieley talk BROADWAY TODAY! BROADWAY'S MODERN MASTERS
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Interview: Victoria Clark and Jason Danieley talk BROADWAY TODAY! BROADWAY'S MODERN MASTERS

Broadway veteran Jason Danieley (“Pretty Woman,” “The Visit,” “The Full Monty”) has had a long association with the Boston Pops as both a singer and a director, so when conductor Keith Lockhart and director of artistic planning Dennis Alves approached him with a request, he was ready.

Indeed, Danieley – who previously directed “Remembering Sondheim” and “Ragtime: The Symphonic Concert” for the Boston Pops – went straight to work developing “Broadway Today! Broadway’s Modern Masters,” which will be performed by the Boston Pops and guest performers direct from Broadway June 6 and 7 at Symphony Hall, and July 6 at Tanglewood in Lenox.

“Keith and Dennis called last August wanting to do something outside of the box. They wanted a program that would celebrate contemporary composers who write music with complicated melody and chord structure in the fashion of Stephen Sondheim,” explained Danieley by telephone recently from his New York home.

“When Keith mentioned Adam Guettel, I knew immediately what kind of show the Pops had in mind, because I did Adam’s ‘Floyd Collins’ off-Broadway early in my career. Keith specifically mentioned ‘The Light in the Piazza,’ for which Adam won the 2005 Tony Awards for Best Original Score and, with Ted Sperling and Bruce Coughlin, for Best Orchestrations,” says Danieley. “I took the ball from there and came up with a short list of composers, with the criteria that they had to have won the Tony for Best Original Score and their shows had to have won for Best Musical or Best Revival.”

Ultimately, Danieley narrowed the list to Guettel and other composers including Jeanine Tesori (“Kimberly Akimbo,” “Fun Home”), Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”), Anaïs Mitchell (“Hadestown”), Michael R. Jackson (“A Strange Loop”), David Yazbek (“The Band’s Visit”), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Friedman (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”), and Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County”).

When it came to casting the concert, Danieley engaged performers most associated with the music and shows being highlighted, including two-time Tony Award winner Victoria Clark (“Kimberly Akimbo,” “The Light in the Piazza”), Joshua Henry and Mandy Gonzalez (“Hamilton”), Bryce Pinkham and Scarlett Strallan (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”), and Darius de Haas.

"It's a A-list cast performing incredible music," says Danieley.

Clark – a Dallas, Texas, native who now makes her home in New York with husband Thomas Reidy and their golden retriever, Ollie – just concluded an over-two-year off- and on-Broadway run as the title character in “Kimberly Akimbo,” for which she won the 2023 Tony Award as Best Leading Actress in a Musical. The actor, singer, and director was on a New York subway and then in a taxicab recently when she took time out for a telephone call to discuss “Broadway Today! Broadway’s Modern Masters” and more.

What appealed to you about this concert?

First off, that it’s brand new and custom-made for Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops and includes all new arrangements of songs from “Kimberly Akimbo,” “Light in the Piazza,” and so many other great shows by some of my favorite composers, some of whom also happen to be my good friends. Also, I’ve admired and loved Jason for a long time, but this will be our first time working together. And Georgia StittJason Robert Brown’s wife and a wonderful composer in her own right – will be our music director and pianist, so we will all be in very good hands.

What are you most looking forward to singing with the Pops?

I can’t wait to sing “Fable” from “Piazza” with a full orchestra, and to hear the overture performed by the Pops. I'll also be doing "Before I Go," one of my favorite numbers from "Kimberly."

In "Kimberly Akimbo," you were so brilliant as the teenager with the medical condition that made her age rapidly. What was that experience like for you?

I'm drawn to telling stories in different ways. After "Piazza,," however,I never expected to get a second great show like "Kimberly," with a wonderful director like Jessica Stone to pull it all together. Jessica really understands actors because she was a such a good one before becoming a director. We met when I was playing Smitty in the 1995 revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," and Jessica came in as Rosemary. She was Tony nominated for Best Direction of a Musical for our show last year and is nominated again this year for "Water for Elephants." She is so talented and a terrific friend, too.

Did you think about taking a long vacation after “Kimberly” closed last month?

No, this was a rare opportunity that I could not pass up. The program has all new arrangements, and my fellow performers are not only heroes of mine, but they’re all stars, too, who’ve played major roles in these incredible shows from the last 20 years of Broadway.

Will you be paying attention to the other performers when you’re not onstage with them?

Absolutely – I’m going to spy on all of them and soak it all in, especially because I wouldn’t likely be cast in shows with them. If I were to make a list of some of my favorite Broadway performers, however, they would all be on it.

Are you still planning to bring your solo autobiographical show “Blessing Ring” to the stage?

I've been working on that project for years, because I love speaking directly to an audience. It's quite far along in the development process, but I’m not sure when I'll finally do it. I’ve put it down for a while. Right now, I want to focus on concerts, and solo work with ensembles.

One final question, where do you keep your Tony awards?

They’re tucked away in our office at home. I keep the Tony for “Piazza” next to the guidebook my character, Margaret, carried with her in the show. And the one for “Kimberly” is next to a copy of David Lindsay-Abaire’s book for the musical.


Photo credits: At top, Victoria Clark photo by Sophie Elgort. Head shot of Jason Danieley courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops.


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