Philadelphia Articles

Two kinds of engagements for young singer

Peopletalk / Liz Smith

Young Aussie singer David Campbell, who has had some very solid success here in the U.S.A., recently became engaged. Love blossomed in Sydney during the 10th-anniversary production of Les Miserables. David played Marius, the student, and his newly betrothed, Natalie Mendoza, was Eponine, who died in his arms every night onstage. Offstage they were luckier.

Campbell, now a New Yorker [A. - ???], is winding up an engagement at the Cinegrill in Hollywood, and then he'll be in Manhattan for a two-week stint at Rainbow and Stars, beginning Oct. 13. Natalie, who is still with the Les Miz tour, joins him around the holidays.

Philadelphia Inquirer; Sept. 17, 1998

His father's an Australian rock star, but singer David Campbell is making his own mark.

cabaret - Just Me

by Steve Cohen

Last Saturday, as part of a PBS tribute to Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh, a young, good-looking, but little-known singer named David Campbell sang music from two Mackintosh-produced shows, Miss Saigon and Martin Guerre. Though he was sharing the stage with original cast members from these and other musical hits, he has yet to appear in a London or Broadway theater himself.

Nevertheless, he made an impact.

How much impact? By Monday afternoon, Campbell's singing engagement at Odette's, starting tonight, was almost sold out.

Extra performances were added to meet the demand. Campbell will be at the New Hope restaurant Thursday through Sunday, this week and next.

Campbell is 25, the son of an Australian rock star named Jimmy Barnes, but what's unusual about him is that he sings with the verve and vocal style of an earlier era, like a legit performer of the '40s or '50s. His musical tastes - Gershwin and Porter as recorded by singers like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole - were Campbell's earliest influences as he grew up in the home of his mother's mother, who adopted and raised him.

When David was 11, Barnes reappeared in his son's life, and his grandmother told David how his parents had been teenagers unprepared to marry or raise a child. Jimmy and David gradually developed a father-son relationship, and David also connected with his mother. Both of the parents had married other spouses and David now has six half-brothers and sisters.

 This summer Campbell hung out with his father in New York, and they wrote a few songs together. "I started to write music,  and he did the words," says Campbell. "They're intimate, personal songs."

In December, Campbell will return to the Philadelphia area to perform with one of his singer-songwriting idols, John Bucchino. They'll be appearing together in a program of Bucchino material for the American Music Theater Festival's cabaret series at Plays and Players.

"I fell in love with his stuff because it's commercial, yet it takes risks," Campbell explains. "John is a sort of modern Randy Newman. Or an urban Jimmy Webb."

He met Bucchino when they each went up to talk with singer-songwriter Amanda McBroom at the end of a show she did in New York two years ago. Since they both live on Manhattan's Upper West Side, they shared a cab back to their neighborhood, then stopped to have coffee together.

They often hang out at each other's apartments. But, says Campbell, it was just last week that he had the nerve to play some original music that he'd just written. Bucchino expanded on the melody and they both contributed words.

As of our conversation last Friday, the song still needed polishing, so he's not likely to sing it at Odette's. But the program will include a mix of standard torch songs with newer material by Bucchino, Newman and Paul Simon. There could be a Sondheim number and a ballad from the Broadway show The Scarlet Pimpernel. Campbell says he likes to keep things loose. "I sit up there and tell stories, gab on and have a good time. I know there's been a lot of hype about me, but I'm just a regular guy."

Campbell has two albums on Philips: Yesterday Is Now and Taking the Wheel. He headlined at Manhattan's Rainbow & Stars and was nominated as 1998's Major Male Vocalist by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.

Campbell has appeared in stage musicals in Australia - most recently as Marius in Les Miz. He'd like to star on Broadway, but never wants to give up intimate gigs like Odette's, where "you have nothing to hide behind, no sets, no orchestra; it's just me."

And another snippet:

Two of the people who would be national names if TV still had variety shows that introduced folks to pop singers follow McBroom to Plays & Players from Dec. 2 to 6.

David Campbell will probably be a major star anyway. At age 24, he is already the most accomplished male I've ever seen do a cabaret act, and I've seen dozens of them. Campbell eliminates any wall between himself and the audience. He can be exciting and moving as he gets directly to the points of the songs he does.

John Bucchino only sings when he has to. He's a songwriter, whose brilliant "Grateful" and visceral "Taking the Wheel" have already been recorded by Campbell. They will appear as a duo, with Bucchino accompanying Campbell in a show featuring his songs. I've already told Campbell I'll be disappointed if they don't do my favorite, "You Can Be the One."


October 1998 - Thanks to Amanda Pressnell, her much appreciated on-going search of the net finds such gems... thanks!