'Someday Is Today': Victoria Clark Prepares to Say Goodbye, and Thank You, to Kimberly Akimbo | Playbill

Special Features 'Someday Is Today': Victoria Clark Prepares to Say Goodbye, and Thank You, to Kimberly Akimbo

On April 28, Clark and the entire company of the Tony-winning musical will take their final bows at Broadway's Booth Theatre.

Victoria Clark Michaelah Reynolds

Two-time Tony winner Victoria Clark is preparing to say goodbye to a character she has lived with for over three years: 15-year-old Kimberly Levaco of Bergen County, New Jersey, the main character of the Tony-winning Broadway musical Kimberly Akimbo, which will end its critically acclaimed run April 28 at Broadway's Booth Theatre. 

When asked how she's currently feeling, Clark admitted, "One minute, I’m feeling euphoric and incredibly energized, the next I feel like I can’t take another step," she says. "One second I’m remembering something that makes me laugh, the next I’m crying."

Clark initially played Kimberly, an endearing teenager who must cope with an aging disease that makes her appear decades older, Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater in winter 2021 and subsequently on Broadway since October 2022. She went on to win her second Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her emotion-filled performance—one that draws as much laughter as it does tears—in the new musical from lyricist and librettist David Lindsay-Abaire (based on his play of the same name) and Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori.

Kimberly garnered five Tonys in all, including those for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Lindsay-Abaire), Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Tesori and Lindsay-Abaire), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Bonnie Milligan). 

Prior to her last week in Kimberly Akimbo, Playbill had the chance to check in with the multitalented artist, who is no stranger to creating rich, complex portraits of women of all ages, imbuing each and every role with tremendous honesty and heart. Clark had previously won a Tony for originating the role of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza. But the role of Kimberly is a particularly bittersweet one for Clark; prior to being offered the demanding part, she had considered leaving performing to focus on her burgeoning directing career. She was even reluctant to take on the role because she wasn’t sure the pop/rock score was a good fit for her lyric soprano (the gifted soprano needn't have worried). What is the Broadway favorite's current thoughts on performing? Find out in the interview below.

Michael Iskander, Justin Cooley, Victoria Clark, Nina White, Olivia Hardy, and Fernell Hogan in Kimberly Akimbo Joan Marcus

As you approach the final week of Kimberly Akimbo, I would think it must be a mixture of emotions. What are you feeling and thinking at this point?
Victoria Clark: You’re right! It’s a kaleidoscope of emotions—one minute I’m feeling euphoric and incredibly energized, the next I feel like I can’t take another step. One second I’m remembering something that makes me laugh, the next I’m crying. There is so much to process, and I’ve spent so much time with our company. They are my second family, so saying goodbye to this show is not just saying goodbye to the characters and the story; it’s saying goodbye to my friends, my support system, our incredible crew and stage managers, our creative team, and our absolutely incredible fans and audiences who make live theatre possible and who made this particular show possible.

Before Kimberly, you were thinking about focusing on directing. Has this show renewed your passion for acting or would you still like to focus on directing?

Most definitely! I have fallen in love with acting again, and that is quite possibly the biggest gift that Jeanine Tesori, David Lindsay-Abaire, [director] Jessica Stone, and [producer] David Stone gave me—the opportunity to investigate those muscles again and to dive in with my whole being and my whole heart.

What was the most demanding aspect of playing Kimberly?
Definitely the stamina required for this role. Kim practically never leaves the stage. And when I do, I am running to do a quick change (costume or hair, or both) or take an insanely fast bathroom break. I have exactly 20 seconds to chat with the sound team at intermission. If I take more than 20 seconds, then I'm late coming back downstairs for Act II. I only have one opportunity to go to the bathroom during Act I, and because I drink so much water during the show, it’s an absolute necessity. I have to run up one flight of stairs, go as fast as I can, then fly into Bonnie [Milligan]’s dressing room (which is about 20 steps closer to the bathroom than mine is—a critical difference when you’re late), and quickly wash my hands. Bonnie stands by in her room with a paper towel, which I then grab from her and then fly back down the stairs, snip off the candy necklace, put on my red jacket, take a sip of tea, and then run to the other side of the stage to meet Steve [Boyer] to come back in for the first family scene in the Levaco living room. 

All this with the aid of my dresser Rachel [Borgman] and the wig supervisor Sarah [Norton], of course. That is only one example of the precision required for the role. And that's not even counting the onstage singing and acting work the audience sees! [laughs]

What do you think you learned about yourself playing this part?

Great question! I will be processing the experience for a long time, but I see subtle and major changes in myself already. I think as we get older, it's so easy to give up on ourselves in some way. "No. I don’t do that any more.” "No, I’m getting too old for that," etc. This role has taught me to throw away self-imposed limitations. Just try. We don’t know until we try. Say yes. We have more capability than we think we have. More energy. More stamina. More skill. Stop saving it up for someday. Someday is today.

Victoria Clark

What did it mean to you to win the Tony? You’re now also one of very few women who have won two Tonys, both for creating roles in new musicals…
Thank you! It’s quite exciting and quite meaningful. As I have said publicly many times, this Tony was a group effort. If the amazing actors around me (Justin [Cooley], Alli [Mauzey], Steve, Bonnie, Nina [White], Liv [Elease Hardy], Fernell [Hogan], and Michael [Iskander]) didn’t see me and respond to me as though I was a 15 year-old, this show would not work at all. If the design was different, if the direction didn’t highlight the shifts in Kim’s mind and experience, we would be sunk. The band and the orchestrations are so detailed and specific—each character has a signature instrument that accompanies their story—Kim's for example, is the ukulele. The ukulele is Kim's essence who never leaves her! It’s a master class in craft, and all the departments are telling the same story.

Awards are very subjective, and obviously everyone who carries a show on Broadway is a supernova in my book. I’ve been on both sides of the situation—nominated for many honors and not won. In the end, awards are a kind of recognition of the time and sacrifice it takes to make something beautiful. And there is awesome, life-changing work going on around us every season, by people who win awards, and people who don’t. The thing is for each individual to know that whether or not anyone gives you an award, your voice is important, valuable, and deeply personal. 

We work in a community that likes to make stories—powerful stories. I am so grateful to be able to do what I do. I am filled with gratitude and joy.

With such a young cast, I would think it will be an especially emotional final night. How do you think your co-stars are doing?
They might be doing better than I am, honestly! [laughs] They are old souls living in young people's bodies. And yet, they haven't been around long enough to know in their bones how special this show is. They think they know… But in 20, 30, 40 years, it will become abundantly clear what it is we shared and what we made. And it will mean something different. As for me, I am highly attuned to the preciousness of this experience: the intergenerational aspect of the cast, the collaborative way we all worked and created the show, the outstanding material which roller coasters from high comedy to high drama in a blink, the unpredictable turns in the story and the score, the enduring relationships of the characters, their humanity, their flaws, the technique and the incredible skill of the whole team, onstage and off, the rapport we have with one another, goofing around, the silliness…. You don’t get this on every project. You’re lucky to get one or two of those things, but not all.

What’s next for you after Kimberly?

First and foremost, I’m going to prioritize my family and friends who have waited patiently for me to wrap up this run. They are incredibly unselfish people who have loved me through all of it, and respected the need to rest my voice and body as much as possible in order to do the role of Kim the way I like to do it. They have taken a back seat for nearly 19 months, and I’m going to invite them to drive! Work-wise, I have some fun concerts coming up and a really exciting directing project next season which will be announced soon. But for the moment, I’m in Bergen County learning all I can from Kimberly Levaco before I have to say goodbye.

Photos: The Company of Kimberly Akimbo Celebrate Their Tony Wins

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