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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark
Chris Clark

Today's subject Chris Clark is currently living his theatre life in a big way. He is making his national tour debut in the Jimmy Buffet extravaganza Escape to Margaritaville. The tour plays here in DC through October 13th at the National Theatre.

Chris' regional credits include Sister Act (Joey), and Pippin at Music Theatre Wichita, Beauty and the Beast (Gaston) at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre and Fiddler on the Roof ( Fyedka) at Garland Summer Musicals.

While at Music Theatre of Wichita, Chris was directed by the company's Artistic Director Wayne Bryan and also the incredibly talented director/choreographer Linda Goodrich. Chris was one lucky young man to be sure.

Grab your pet parrot, have a cheeseburger, and get your tickets to see Escape to Margaritaville starring Chris Clark. In a few years when he is accepting a Tony Award for some big show, you can say you saw him when he was just starting out.

At what age did you know you were going to become a performer?

I've been performing for as long as I can remember. My parents tell stories of me building microphone stands out of Legos and putting on concerts in the living room when was 3. I remember growing up I wanted to be all kind of things like a baseball player, a basketball player, a shoe designer, but never an actor. Towards the end of my freshman year of high school, I realized that I had to be a performer. I knew that I would rather pursue my dreams and have it not work out than to know that I never tried at all.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark
A very early career pic of Chris Clark in the Plano Children's Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What was the first show you saw as a child and do you still remember the experience?

I have a very vague memory of seeing a production of The Wizard of Oz when I was little. I loved watching video tapes of Cirque du Soleil shows and always loved the idea of being up on a stage.

Where did you receive your training and with whom did you study under?

I graduated from the BFA musical theatre program at Texas State University. The program is headed by Kaitlin Hopkins, and she along with the rest of the faculty: namely Jim Price, Michael Maresca, Marqui Maresca, Kiira Schmidt Carper, and Cassie Abate; gave me invaluable training, and I'm a very proud TXST Bobcat.

I'd be nowhere without my high theatre teachers at Plano West Sr. High (Grant Goble & Norv Sykes) and Shepton High (Carmen McElwain & Laura Darce) who believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my love of theatre.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark
Chris Clark and unidentified performer in Music Theatre of Witchita's production of Pippin. Photo by Jerry Fritchman.

You performed at Music Theatre of Wichita in their production of Pippin. How much of a blast was it working on that show?

MTW's Pippin was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I've ever had on stage. I got to use a lot of my special skills like guitar (something I'm doing a lot of in Escape to Margaritaville), juggling, balancing things on my chin, and I was even trained in trapeze. Getting to perform that show under the direction of Al Blackstone alongside the incredible lifelong friends I made in the resident company is one of my favorite memories performing.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark
Sarah Hinrichsen and Chris Clark in the U.S. National Tour of Jimmy Buffet's Escape to Margaritaville. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Can you please tell us almost everything we need to know about including something about the role you play in Escape to Margaritaville?

Of course! The show is your classic boy meets girl love story set in paradise. I play Tully who is a singer/songwriter who lives and works on a tropical island. Because of his fear of failure he's content to keep living his laid-back lifestyle free from crowds, the cold, pollution, and (most of all) work, until a driven, career minded tourist upends his heart and encourages him to dream bigger.

The show is a blast from start to finish. Even when I get to the theatre in the best mood, I'm always in an even better by the time the show comes down. I get to show up to work every day and jam out to some Jimmy Buffett songs! What could be better than that?

What is it about Jimmy Buffett's songs that make them ripe for a theatrical treatment?

Jimmy is innately a fantastic storyteller, and his songs contain so many universal themes that anyone can relate to. The show has a great mix of the songs you know and love, some deep cuts, and even a few new ones, so there's something in the show for everyone whether you're a casual theatre fan or a die hard Parrott Head.

Escape to Margaritaville has many Jimmy Buffet classics throughout. Do you have a particular Jimmy Buffett song?

My parents are really big fans of Jimmy's music, so I've always loved the song, "Fins." Since starting the show and diving deeper into Jimmy's canon, I've really loved his more introspective stuff like "A Pirate Looks at 40" and "Tin Cup Chalice"

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Chris Clark
Chris Clark (with guitar) and the company of he U.S. National Tour of Jimmy Buffet's Escape to Margaritaville. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Escape to Margaritaville is your first national tour credit. How ramped up are you to see the country while performing in this show?

I'm so excited to get to see the country while touring with Escape to Margaritaville. The show is going to some really awesome cities that I'm so pumped to get to visit and bring this uplifting story to. I truly don't have words to say how excited I am and how surreal it is to be touring the country.

Special thanks to Ashley Birdsell, National Theatre's Director of Marketing and Sales and Maddie Odegaard, National Theatre's Communications and Sales Associate for their assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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