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Perfect Union

Cabaret performers David Campbell and John Bucchino are a lesson in compatibility.

David Campbell and John Bucchino are huddled around the speaker phone in Bucchino's apartment in New York, where they are going through the final few days of rehearsals for Sweet Dreams, their joint appearance at the American Music Theatre Festival. With each constantly referring to the other, it's a little like listening to the old vaudeville act Alphonse and Gaston: "After you, my dear Gaston." "Oh, no, my dear Alphonse. After you."

"John, you're the one with the big award coming up. Tell him about that," Campbell insists.

"But you've got that booking at the Public Theatre. That's really important," Bucchino counters.

In any case, the two cabaret performers have certainly formed a mutual admiration society -- one that has resulted in their dual appearance at AMTF, performing an evening of songs by Bucchino. They first met at a gig by Ann Hampton Callaway in New York's Bottom Line. They were "vaguely polite," Bucchino says, but it wasn't until they met again -- this time introduced by singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom -- that the two men discovered a connection. Over coffee, they found that their talents meshed. Campbell has since recorded several Bucchino songs; in fact, his second CD takes its title from Bucchino's "Taking the Wheel."

At the age of 25, David Campbell has reached the heights in cabaret, performing at New York's Rainbow and Stars, and other top clubs. The young Australian already has achieved considerable fame at home, playing Marius in Les Miserables and creating the lead in the musical Only Heaven Knows. Both roles earned him Mo Awards, Australia's version of the Tony. But stardom in Australia has its limits, and Campbell saw real opportunity in New York, where he burst onto the scene with the kind of buzz that hasn't been heard since a young Barbra Streisand worked the clubs. He quickly graduated from Greenwich Village venues to larger, more prestigious engagements elsewhere. In London last June, Campbell was part of an all-star tribute to producer Cameron Mackintosh, before an audience headed by Queen Elizabeth.

South Philadelphia native John Bucchino has been less visible than Campbell. While he does perform his tunes in clubs, he is known primarily as a songwriter for others. And since he neither reads nor writes music, he has to hire people to take down his songs. This hasn't proved to be a major difficulty, though he does describe the process a making him feel "like a butterfly being pinned to a board."

A number of Bucchino tunes have been performed by cabaret greats, such as Barbara Cook and Amanda McBroom, and he is currently writing songs for a DreamWorks sequel to the animated feature Prince of Egypt. The recipient of the prestigious ASCAP Foundation/Richard Rodgers Award, Bucchino is seeking a label for his first CD and is working on an upcoming musical.

Seeing as both Bucchino and Campbell are enjoying careers on the ascent, Sweet Dreams should prove an exciting marriage of a talented singer and an equally talented composer.


By Brian Caffall, Philadelphia Weekly, December 1998.