SUZIE GOO: PRIVATE SECRETARY by Sky Gilbert, directed by David Oiye, with Ryan Kelly, Edward Roy, Greg Campbell, David Ramsden and Lisa Anne Ross. Presented by Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Opens tonight (Thursday, June 3) and runs to June 13, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $10-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNNN
If you've seen actor Greg Campbell recently, don't get upset if he hasn't said hello. Not only is he currently finishing up one show and beginning another, but his voice is getting tired.
"It's my throat," he says on the phone after a rehearsal for Suzie Goo: Private Secretary, which opens tonight at Buddies in Bad Times.
"I sing in Suzie Goo, and I'm finishing up City For Sale, where I do multiple characters, including one who sounds like this."
Campbell wheezes into the receiver to give me an aural sample. Yikes.
During the rehearsals for Suzie Goo, he's had a grand total of half an hour to eat, shave (City For Sale requires actors to be in white face, so no five o'clock shadow allowed) and travel from Buddies to the Cameron House.
Closing day last Sunday, he missed the City For Sale cast party because of a Suzie Goo tech rehearsal. He had one day of freedom between the closing of one and the first preview of the other.
"I knew how it was going to be," he laughs, "and at first I didn't think I could do the show. But the director (David Oiye) has worked around my schedule."
A good thing, too. Campbell and co-stars Edward Roy and David Ramsden were part of the first production of the play back in 1991. Campbell says revisiting the role of Sheree LaFuente - "the good-natured heart of the office" - is like slipping into an old skin, but one that's weathered a bit.
"Sheree's got a darker side this time around," he says. "She's more malicious. She likes to gossip a lot more than she did before."
The actor took his cue from director Oiye, who stages the opening musical number as a big phone-gossiping sequence.
Sky Gilbert's script, about the trials and tribulations of young ingenue Suzie Goo (Ryan Kelly), is a satire of gender roles and a look at women's roles in society. It's also takes a campy look at queer culture.
"I don't think things have changed much in the last 13 years," says Campbell. "Men still run most businesses, they still stand aside in elevators to let women out. And we're still fighting for gay rights."
As for Campbell's post-Suzie career, he says for a while he tended to get typecast because people saw he could do drag. "Basically, I got impersonators and drag queen prostitutes."
Things got a bit ridiculous when he found himself playing a character named Drag Queen Woman in the TV show Nikita.
A decade ago, he says, people told him he resembled Three's Company's Audra Lindley when in drag.
"We haven't done makeup yet, but I'm hoping I still look young and pretty," he says.
But it was VideoCab, where he's worked regularly for the past few seasons - he just scored a Dora nomination in the ensemble for their production of Confederation - that brought out his butch side.
"I'm in my 40s, and male actors tend to get more distinguished. You take on this weight" he laughs. "VideoCab's let me play lots of masculine, authoritative men. I recently played Jacob Mercer in David French's 1949 out of town. I'm starting to play these great roles I never got when I was younger."