By Richard Schultz, Oct. 3, 2014.

Joshua James Campbell

Joshua James Campbell plays Spike in Arizona Theatre Company’s current production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (read the review by Richard Schultz here).

The hilarious comedy – winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play by gay playwright Christopher Durang – mixes Chekhov shout-outs with contemporary cringe-worthy flair.

Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia are living a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, while their sister Masha travels the world as a movie star.

Just as their cleaning woman, Cassandra, issues a warning about terrible events in their future, Masha returns for an unannounced visit with her 20-something boy toy Spike in tow. And so begins an unforgettable weekend building to a fever pitch of rivalry, regret and racket.

Echo spoke with James Campbell about his role as the boy toy.

Echo: Have you ever performed in a Christopher Durang play?

James Campbell: This is my first time with Durang and it’s shockingly exhausting. You need high energy for his type of comedy. It’s high paced and over the top. In rehearsal, the cast grew more comfortable with a bigger style of performance.

Photo by Jeff Smith

Echo: Tell me about your character of Spike.

James Campbell: The show is about three siblings and the family turmoil. Spike is the boy toy and younger than Mosha. He is one of the non–Chekhovian characters. The show includes lots of talking, but trust me that Spike is all action. The character of Vanya flirts with Spike.

Echo: So, is how Spike is like you?

James Campbell: Spike is nothing like me. In my ’20s, I played younger romantic roles such as a prince. In this show, I wear minimal clothing. It’s a bit weird to be the boy toy.

Echo: So what did you base your boy toy character on?

James Campbell: Durang writes so well with full characters. They all have heart and are very real. In addition, the director allowed all of us to play. I slowly started making my way into the Spike world. Since Spike is very comfortable with his body, I started taking my clothes off early. Spike is a peacock and likes to flaunt what he has. He likes people to look and compliment him.

Echo: Anything special you did to prep for the lack of clothing onstage?

James Campbell: I needed to eat healthy all the time and upped my regular workouts.

Charles Janasz, Ali Rose Dachis, Suzanne Bouchard, Joshua James Campbell and Suzanne Warmanen in Arizona Company’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Photo by Jeff Smith

Echo: Do you have a favorite moment or scene in the show?

James Campbell: Spike does a reverse striptease where he put his clothes back on. He does with an audition monologue from a TV show that he almost got.

Echo: What else would you like audience to know about this comedy?

James Campbell: You don’t need to know Chekov and his plays to get this show. Spike is the foil. Some audiences may not love him, while others are quite taken with him. Without a doubt, I have a good time playing Spike.

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