The Showcase - Australians in the Spotlight

DavId Campbell - singer

Click for a larger imageTo be cast as the lead in a Stephen Sondheim musical in New York is the musical equivalent of winning the lottery. Sondheim is to singers what Shakespeare is to actors. But to be cast without an audition is the stuff that sends jaws to the floor.

And that is exactly what Australia's David Campbell did when it was announced he had been nabbed for the New York debut of Sondheim's Saturday Night. The 26-year-old has garnered critical acclaim for his New York cabaret engagements, but nobody on or off Broadway had seen a casting coup like this.

"I heard they were going to produce Saturday Night, and I was sent some material to prepare for an audition. Then suddenly I was told I had been cast, and I hadn't sung a note," he says.

"Well I was just stunned. And thrilled. It's an incredible score. I am so honored, and now of course I am so petrified. It's Sondheim."

It seems the legendary composer saw Campbell perform last year in a workshop of Rodgers & Hart's Babes in Arms, and liked what he heard. When Campbell's name was suggested before an audition, Sondheim simply replied: "Cast him." So Campbell is deep in rehearsal for a January 20 opening at New York's Second Stage Theater Company, playing ene, a Brooklyn boy who believes life would be better lived under the bright lights of Manhattan. But when he finally makes the move, he learns the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Although Saturday Night is an off-Broadway production, Campbell knows his Broadway debut is imminent. Last year he performed in a New York reading of Thoroughly Modern Millie that was successful enough to spark talk of a full-scale production.

"Now I am hearing that Thoroughly Modern Millie will go to Broadway. I would love it if it did."

So just move over Dame Edna, David Campbell is out to nab your spotlight.


The Australian Way, January 2000.