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The glass slipper

Winnipeg actress ready to slip on rewarding RMTC role in Tennessee Williams’ stage classic

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If typecasting is every actor’s biggest fear, then Winnipeg’s Andrea del Campo has nothing to worry about.

This week you could see her on Movie Central performing in My Awkward Sexual Adventure, a silly sex farce in which the bikini-clad del Campo appears in a steamy massage parlour scene that gets out of hand.

Or you can catch up to her at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in The Glass Menagerie as innocent Laura Wingfield, one of the stage’s most buttoned-up characters.

"Isn’t that hilarious range?" says the blond-haired del Campo. "You know, actors just want to work. Any opportunity to work is most appealing. We want to work so badly, this is the cocktail of roles you get."

The University of Winnipeg graduate has a regular gig with the local improv troupe Outside Joke. Since returning from a hoped-for career breakthrough in Toronto in 2012, she has been making her living as an actress. Her biggest exposure, in more ways than one, was in the locally lensed Sexual Adventure, written by and starring ex-Winnipegger Jonas Chernick, in which her character Sapphire is an all-business "therapist."

 "The scariest thing was having to parade around quite confidently in an orange string bikini," she says during a recent interview. "I don’t usually do that."

More typically she plays younger, characters like in Eden (Sarasvàti Productions) and Munsch Ado About Nothing (Prairie Theatre Exchange). For a Family Channel show called Winging It, del Campo played a teenage angel.

Her credits suggested the odds were against her landing an iconic role in a Tennessee Williams classic for the city’s flagship theatre.

"I wept," she says of her response to the news that she would be making her RMTC debut as the painfully shy Laura in Williams’ domestic drama of dashed dreams.

"Even now when I think about it I choke up. I love the play. It’s a huge job which I didn’t think I would get to do at this point in my career."

She had already played Laura in a 2006 U of W production as part of an 11-member female cast plus one man as the gentleman caller. All the women played multiple roles, sometimes creating scenes where there were four Amandas or eight Lauras on stage together.

"For years it was the most rewarding theatrical experience I’d ever had; now this is," says del Campo. "So the two most rewarding theatre experiences I’ve ever had are the same play."

Although she has experience with every part, she says it is more gratifying to focus solely on one. The 1944 drama — Williams’ first success — follows her overbearing mother Amanda’s vain attempt to find a suitor for Laura. Although the plot revolves around her, Laura speaks very little and doesn’t even move very much.

"She may not be doing a lot with her body or her voice, but she’s very internal, she experiences a lot," del Campo says. "The amount of concentration I have to devote to being onstage as Laura outweighs anything I’ve done before. It’s an exercise in concentration and commitment."

The Kelvin High School graduate feels a connection to Laura, but doesn’t have much in common with her, especially when it comes to timidity.

"I am not shy," she says. "I am gregarious and somewhat obnoxiously social."

Del Campo may be a people person, but the thought of so many people watching her RMTC bow has brought on the kind of butterflies she has never experienced before.

"When I was on that stage for the first time, I felt terror," she says. "So many seats, such a huge stage, the biggest I’ve ever been on. I thought of having to reach all those people. It occurred to me last night to be scared."

The novelty of a mainstage production has made her feel like a little kid in wonder of staging a landmark work.

"I share that with Laura, I’m often in awe of things."

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 11:24 PM CST: Correction to indicate that Munsch Ado About Nothing was a Prairie Theatre Exchange production.

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