Don’t Blame It on the Stork has an NDG connection!
By: Sharman Yarnell– mtltimes.ca
Actor Shawn Campbell, born and raised in NDG, was last seen at the Centaur Theatre in The Envelope.
His latest endeavour at the Leonardo Da Vinci Centre, has been written by one of his cast mates in Envelope, Tony Calabretta. A very funny piece based on an Italian family that is faced with, horror of horrors, a WASP as a son-in-law and all the trials and tribulations that go with that. Said son-in-law, on the other hand, must contend with well-meaning Italian in-laws who just can’t stay out of his marriage. —When all is said and done, it has little to do with the family and culture and more to do with a couple’s inability to communicate or…desire to do so. Some things just aren’t meant to be.
The best comedy arises from drama and Don’t Blame It on the Stork has plenty of both.What serves this play well is the comedy coming from honest and real situations.
Campbell as ‘Derrick’and Nadia Verrucci as ‘Carmie’, have the difficult job of being the straight men in the play. An admirable job is done by both. Calabretta as ‘Lou’is outright hilarious with his malapropisms. Indeed, the entire cast does an excellent job.
The play suffers from the audience applauding after every single scene. Other than at the Opera, I have never come across this before. This destroys the momentum of the play. Director, Antonio DiVerdis, has chosen to bring the lights down to dark at the end of each scene, whether or not the action continues on the same set or another, rather than fading them out slowly as the other lights come up. This is very distracting, as is the constant clapping.
Back to Campbell and life as a thespian. He didn’t actually have a life long dream of becoming an actor but rather, “…fell into theatre”. He was dating a girl who was in her first year of a theatre program in CEGEP,so he hung around the theatre a lot. Probably feeling a bit of that theatre itch, he started outworking on the set and front of house. Not really knowing what direction in life he was heading towards, he kind of gravitated towards that smell of grease paint and…he ended up being accepted by the National Theatre School of Canada. There you have it!
That decision has taken Campbell and his talent right across Canada, from Newfoundland to British Columbia.He spent two seasons at The Stratford Festival which led to an appearance on Broadway with its production of Much Ado About Nothing. The Stratford experience was not lost on him. For Campbell, “Stratford was a great learning experience in so many ways. There are innumerable things I learned about text, movement, speech, etc. However, if I had to give you just one thing it is this: I learned how to ‘be’on the stage. I had the immense privilege and pleasure to watch Bill Hutt, Brian Bedford, Martha Henry, and Douglas Rain, to name a few. I was able to see and experience how they played each and every night; how they were in front of an audience. I am a better actor for that.”
Remember Sir Lawrence Olivier referring to the audience at the Oscars as his “fellow students”? Campbell is an active example of just that. Always a student, it is clear that he soaks up what he can from his diverse experiences.
Campbell was able to take more than the benefits of working on the Stratford stage away with him – he recognized that he was in the company of some of the best in the business, including those behind the scenes, all incredibly devoted to their craft: voice coaches, movement coaches and text coaches.
While he says he is not “in a position where I get to pick and choose my roles”, he is not lacking for work. His television and film credits are as long as those for theatre: Suits; Murdoch Mysteries; Gunless; A History of Violence, and Ken Finkleman’sAt the Hotel. He doesn’t really have a preference, “it’s the craft of acting, regardless of the medium, that I love.”
That “craft”is put to good use in his latest play. It’s not easy being the straight man, a character in a serious situation, in a show that pulls in a cartload of belly-laughs from the audience. Campbell handles it beautifully and so very honestly – his every choice as an actor is believable. Then again, every role I have seen him create is played with a profound truth –
Don’t Blame It on the Stork is on at the Leonardo Da Vinci Centre until October 11.
For tickets: 514 955-8370 or www.cldv.ca.
Photo credit for twosome (Shawn Campbell and Nadia Verrucci) – Gino Calabretta.