Kevin Clark’s role as the ‘swing’ ensemble member in Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, is a tough—but crucial—job. His responsibility is to know all eight mens’ roles and be ready to step into any one of them at a moment’s notice. But being the guy who can save the show is only fitting for someone who credits Beauty and the Beast with shaping his life’s path.
Growing up in Portland, Kevin dreamt of being a professional ballet dancer. He trained at all the best local schools: Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pacific Artists Dance Center (now The Portland Ballet), Northwest Dance Project, Jefferson Dancers. But when he and other Jefferson dancers were hired to dance in Pixie Dust Production’s Beauty and the Beast at the Newmark, something clicked. “The production was such an incredible spectacle, I just fell in love with it. It was an amazing opportunity, because I probably would never have thought to pursue musical theater in the capacity that I am now if it hadn’t fallen into my lap like that. I really found a niche for myself.”, he says. So after trying out ballet-dancer life in a season with Nevada Ballet Theater, Kevin returned to Portland and jumped into the city’s vibrant theater scene.
So in January, 2013, Kevin moved to New York and hit the ground running. Gigs fell in place at first, but then a 9-month dry spell tested his determination. “I started waiting tables, kept taking class and auditioning, tried to keep inspired. It was a really good lesson, and it paid off.”
Judging from where he is now— two months and 50 performances into the year-long tour of a major Broadway show— it sure did. Despite the pressure and physical rigors of being a swing, he’s relishing the experience. “Because I never know whether I’ll be performing, the adrenaline is always there. And a cool advantage of my job is learning the show from so many different angles— it’s fascinating!”.
Kevin’s excitement about Beauty is infectious, and not just because it’s the show that sparked his love of musical theater. “It sounds cheesy, but it truly speaks to everyone: an amazing story of love and self-discovery, with these lavish sets, production numbers, our incredible orchestra. If you’ve seen the movie and love it, you’ll be obsessed with this production.” Getting to share it with his hometown audience is icing on the cake. He plans to play tour guide for the cast, visit his mom and puppy, and can’t wait to see Portland audiences’ reaction to the show. “I’ve been telling the cast that Portland audiences are some of the greatest, and they truly support their own— and I know this won’t be an exception!”
Kevin’s insider tips for what to look for? “The subtleties. Watch how Lumiere and Mrs. Potts react in the background in a scene with Belle and the Beast. We have such well-rounded, heartfelt actors that do a great job of making each show fresh.”
Beauty and The Beast opens at the Keller Auditorium December 1, 2015. Click here for tickets and show dates.