Campbell, who has performed in everything from theatre to commercials to a rock band, has also played one or two characters with a dark side. He received a 1995 Tony nomination for originating the role of jaded screenwriter Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. He said of the show, “It was certainly a life-changing experience.” To do the show, Campbell (who had started in musicals) flew to New York from L.A., where he had been acting in films and on the series “Jake and the Fatman.” “It took me ten years to get back to theatre,” he says. “Brian Stokes Mitchell was also on a TV series at around the same time, and singing at charities events, we’d laugh and swear that some day we’d get back to musicals.” He feels lucky to have landed steady TV work early in his career and enjoys working in both mediums, but says that “there is nothing like a live audience–the combined feeling of elation and being physically spent–that comes from working hard in the theatre.”
Campbell played Joe for much of Sunset’s run, and played opposite such diverse Norma Desmonds as Glenn Close, Betty Buckley, Elaine Paige and standby Karen Mason. “I loved working with each and every one, and the show was completely different for me with each.” He went from divas to dancing as the replacement for Boyd Gaines in Contact. At first, he did the show on the road–which necessitated director Susan Stroman’s restaging the show for proscenium stages. “That went a long way to make it feel like I had a stake in it,” stated Campbell, who loved Gaines’ performance but wanted to make the role of a suicidal advertising executive his own by the time he joined the Broadway cast. While not about to join the Bolshoi, Campbell says that he was a “good mover” going into the show.
While he primarily focuses his energies on the role of Riley’s father these days, Campbell still loves to perform and says of his former goal of doing a Broadway musical: “I am so happy that I was given a chance to fulfill that dream and can continue to work and enjoy our wonderful Broadway community.” Both he and Kennedy will most likely be able say that for a long time to come.