Victoria Mallory Returns to Atlanta in The King and I

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Victoria Mallory. Photo courtesy of Theater of the Stars

Charming and gracious, Victoria Mallory displays a humble attitude that in a self-effacing way draws attention away from her distinguished career. But don’t be fooled, she has a career that many actors would dream of having, and when she returns to Atlanta in the Theater of the Stars production of the King and I, she will be reunited with the production and theater that launched her professional career.

A Broadway veteran, Mallory made her Broadway debut in the first revival of Westside Story, and she later originated the role of Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music. She also became a daytime TV star, appearing as Leslie Brooks on the hit soap opera The Young and the Restless for six years. Currently, she lives and works in New York City where she teaches at The Voice Studio.

While her father was stationed at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., he retired and the family continued to live in the city. Since a large portion of her childhood was spent in Columbus, she considers it home. During this time, she did a lot of theater and performing, including classical piano (a career she considered). But, it was when her mother drove her to Atlanta to audition for a regional production with Theater of the Stars that her destiny began to take shape.

“I auditioned for the King and I at Theater of the Stars, which was under the stars at Chastain then, and it was my very first professional show,” Mallory states. This production has created a relationship with the theater. “Years later, I came back and did most of the leading lady roles for them after my Broadway and TV career,” she says.

She has played leading roles in such classics as My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, but due to scheduling conflicts, she has not been able to play the role of Anna in The King and I when before now. “I’m finally getting a chance to do the role I have always wanted to do,” she comments.

She exhibits a deep sense of gratitude for not only the chance to play the role of Anna in Atlanta, but for each of the opportunities she has had in her career. When she speaks of her accomplishments, she attempts to divert attention away from her own talent, especially when she speaks about her soap opera experience.

Mallory explains, “Doing the soap was heaven. It was a wonderful role. I didn’t know much about what a soap opera was. The reason why I was probably cast was that the producers at the time had seen me in New York, and I was a classical pianist. My role on the soap was a concert pianist.”

During her six years on the soap, she was able to play piano and sing on the show. The producers even allowed her time off in the summer to perform in Summer Stock productions. This role led to many other television roles and even a role on another soap called Santa Barbara. While she may be known for her television appearance, her heart is in musical theater.

On Broadway, she has been able to work with several legends, including Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim, and the musical she did with them called A Little Night Music has become a pivotal moment not just for her career but also her life.

“When I got the role [of Anna], I was in Follies for a year. During Follies, they were working on A Little Night Music, and I was approached by Prince,” Mallory states. “He simply offered the role to me. It was a remarkable role written for my voice by Stephen Sondheim.

“The show not only gave me a role that almost every ingénue in musical theatre is familiar with because the roles just don’t get any better than that,” she says. In addition to being a highlight of her theatrical career, the production has had a lasting effect on her family. “It is also where I met my husband who played the role of Henrick. When the show closed, we got married,” she comments.

Yet, the impact of the musical on her family had only begun. Fate would have another surprise connection to the musical in store for Mallory and her daughter Ramona, who would later be cast in the 2010 revival of the musical with Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury. The producers, who did not know she was Mallory’s daughter, cast her in the role of Anna, which is the second time that her daughter’s career mirrored her own. Her daughter also began her professional career in a Theater of the Stars production of The Music Man.

For Mallory, the chance to return to Atlanta and work with Theater of the Stars in The King and I as Anna is one that excites her. “I have always wanted to do this role and couldn’t be more excited. There’s just so much to it,” she explains. “The script is fantastic and of course so is the music.”

Despite the musical’s age, it continues to have a strong appeal. “I think what draws audiences to this show is that these characters inspire,” Mallory says. She goes on to mention that the musical’s themes still resonate with its audience, mentioning that it shows us that “we are just human. We hope; we grow. Hopefully, we will be able to respect others for who they are and what they believe and not criticize out of fear.”

When thinking about this production in relation to her entire career, Mallory has a simple thought that stems from her down to earth personality. “I have been very fortunate. I still get to go and do what I love,” she comments.

Directed by Baayork Lee, the Theater of the Stars production of The King and I will play at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from September 5 through September 11. For more information on the production and Theater of the Stars, please visit http://www.theaterofthestars.com/. Tickets are available at the Fox Theatre box office, by phone at 1-855-ATL-TIXX or online at http://www.foxatltix.com/.

By Kenny Norton