Spotlight On Allen Campbell

EF - How would you define success in terms of being an actor?

AC - It all depends. Some people don't define success in financial terms. It is important to enjoy the process. I would rather be a starving actor rather than a wealthy doctor. If you come at it from a point from being rich and famous in this industry, you are going to be disappointed. You have to love what you do. Rejection can come hard and fast. You have to love the process and love the people in it. I love the people in the entertainment business.

EF - Who have you stayed in touch with?

AC - My dresser. You become so involved with him. It is an amazing friendship. They see you at your worst and best. Some of the stage managers. I keep in touch with the actors - Glenn, Elaine, Betty, and Alice, of course. I'm real excited for her with the new show. Betty Schaeffer was not a good role, I think. This will get her what she deserves. She is a very talented performer. I haven't missed the show but I have missed the people. It is like a family. There is a real sense of loss.

EF - Tell me about your most demanding role?

AC - This one in Sunset, both physically and vocally. Maintaining the level of performance, emotionally, physically 8 times a week is demanding. I had to change my character a bit each time when the leading ladies changed. It is like starting from scratch again. I haven't worked this hard in entertainment. I don't think people realize that you have to gear your entire life, every facet of it toward those 8 shows a week. In terms of eating, drinking and things you enjoy have to be reduced. Elaine and I at the end of the show each night started a ritual. I got these two little antique glasses. We used to a little nip of Cognac. The dresser would bring it up, we'd take a nip and then take our bows. We did it before our bows each night, not the matinees though.

EF - Do you have a preference between theater and film?

AC - I don't think anything equals the immediate response of the theater. There are things I like and dislike with both of them. They are so different. I feel fortunate to have worked in both areas. It is hard to say one is superior of the other. I do love the theatrical community though. It is like you have an unlimited amount of takes on film. The immediacy is great in theater.

EF - How did the role in Sunset come up?

AC - I've always worked. Sometimes there is longer times between opportunities. After the TV series got canceled(Jake and the Fatman). I sat around and thought I always wanted to be a leading man in a musical. That was my dream but I put it on the back burner to do TV. I started studying voice. Low and Behold, one of those instances where desire and opportunity come along, my voice teacher said he worked with Kevin Anderson a while ago to get into this new musical called Sunset Boulevard. He said they are going to do it here and thought I would be good for it. He knew the casting director and have your agent call him. He did and started the audition process. It lasted 6 months. I went back 5 times at least. They kept coming back. They were looking at Peter Gallagher and all these people. I really wanted to do a Broadway musical. I hadn't really sung in 10 years. I was very fortunate that I got that opportunity. Now that it is over, I have to make a choice of what I want to do. I'm not sure yet.

EF - What was your first impression when you read the script and/or listened to the music for Sunset?

AC - I did not read the script until after my first day of rehearsal. I knew I had a big part because of the movie. I went home and I was blown away of the enormity of how much I had to sing. I always loved Billy Wilder. I loved the piece. After my first day of rehearsal, I still had not heard the complete score so I asked the musical supervisor if I could listen to it. He was reluctant. The only recording they had was the London recording. This had changed quite a bit but still gave you the flavor. He finally agreed. ALW really created a sense of the piece with the opening theme. It was not the most memorable of ALW's songs but I think it his best score with actually tying the feeling of the piece, the music and tone together. I think it is a wonderful score. I got goose bumps all over especially that beginning overture.

EF - What was your impression of Andrew Lloyd Webber? Had you known him before?

AC - No I never knew him. I think he is a genius. He is nice. It is all about the music with Andrew. I worked with him when he was rewriting Sunset in LA. He would take me and Judy (Kuhn) during rehearsal and sit down at the piano. He would want to try something new. It was like an out of body experience. I'm sitting here at this piano and being part of this amazing experience. He doesn't like acting without music. When he rewrote Sunset 25% more of it was scored then it was before.

EF - Have you seen the show?

AC - I have only seen it twice. It was relaxing the first time. I didn't see the show for a couple of years. They never swung us out. They never let understudies perform unless we were sick. I never saw it until I went to Denver to visit my girlfriend (Lauren Kennedy). I sat there and had a cognac cause I thought I would be nervous. I totally enjoyed it and got caught up when the mansion came down. When I saw it later in Chicago, I didn't enjoy it as much. The show had closed, I got a little picky and started to be a critic. Trevor Nunn let everyone do his own performance. Ron Bohmer's performance was completely different than mine. He was funny! His relationship was different. He got a lot of laughs. I really enjoyed his performance though it was not what I would have done. I love the fact that it wasn't forced upon me.

EF - Who was Joe Gillis?

AC - He's a guy from the Midwest. Basically, a good guy but with some serious character flaws. He falls into this life of cynicism. He ceases to believe in himself and takes the easy road. He runs away from his ideals and that is his most serious character flaw. I think he has to be likable in some ways. There is a basic goodness about him. I so loved William Holden's performance but I knew it wouldn't work for 2 1/2 hours on stage. I didn't think it was likable enough. You want to see the struggle between Joe and all the characters.

How would you compare or contrast yourself with Joe Gillis?

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