David Campbell, who created a mini-sensation a couple seasons back when he was cast in the lead of the Off-Broadway New York premiere of Stephen Sondheim's early effort Saturday Night, will return to town Feb. 26 for a month-long cabaret gig at Cafe Carlyle. The Australian star's engagement lasts until March 23.
Campbell will use the Carlyle dates to pay tribute to two of his favorite singers: Bobby Darin, the early rock idol who, with "Mack the Knife," switched mid-career from pop to swinging lounge-style singing; and Sammy Davis, Jr., the tap dance, actor and Rat Pack member who's best remembered for his rendition of "The Candy Man."
"When I started doing cabaret and singing," Campbell told Playbill On-Line, "they were the two guys I modeled my style on. I copied the hard-swinging style those guys had. They were entertainers, more than singers. That has been the strength of my shows—I'm a down front entertainment."
From the Davis catalogue, Campbell will sing "Gypsy in My Soul" and "Mr. Bojangles," which will be delivered not as Davis did, but rather "as a tribute to Sammy." From the Darin oeuvre, comes a medley made up of " Splish Splash," "Mack the Knife," "Beyond the Sea," and more.
"I'm not the type to do theme shows," Campbell continued. "I try to choose songs that are extensions of me or reflections of me at the time... I think I've got acting chops and I've got a voice to match those chops and I've got a lot of guts. I can do a lot more things than other people could. In the end, I call myself more a live entertainer than a musical theatre actor." Campbell recently signed a recording contract with Sony. In two months, he will be flying to London to record his next effort, a rock and roll album.
Ironically, it was his experience performing in Sondheim's Saturday Night, which he describes as "life changing," that convinced Campbell to try his hand at rock. "When I saw those people, and Sondheim, doing what they did best, it encouraged me to push myself and do what I think I do best. And that's rock. The show inspired me to move away from musical theatre, but in a good way."
In the Cafe Carlyle show, Campbell will also sing songs from Shout, the Aussie musical he starred in. Other represented composers include Carol Hall, John Bucchino and Michael Pemberton.
Campbell's other theatre credits include Babes in Arms at City Center Encores!, and Guys and Dolls and Les Miz, both in Australia.
There is a $75 cover charge, no minimum. Cafe Carlyle is in the Carlyle Hotel, Madison Avenue at 76th Street. Performances are Tuesday through Saturdays at 8:45 PM with late shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:45 PM. For reservations call (212) 570-7189.
—By Robert Simonson