Star: VICTORIA WYNDHAM
Role: Rachel Cory Hutchins, ANOTHER WORLD
Home Turf: Born in Chicago; raised in Westport, CT
Big Break: Playing Hodel in the Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof"
Tradition: Daughter of actors Ralph and Florence Camargo; both her parents were on the radio version of GUIDING LIGHT
Children: Darian and Christian
THE SON ALSO RISES
On September 19, 1996, the acclaimed British import, "Skylight," opened on Broadway, starring
Michael Gambon and Lia Williams and featuring an American newcomer named Christian
Camargo. Hey, isn't that Vicky Wyndham's kid?
DIGEST ONLINE: What do you think of Christian's success?
VICTORIA WYNDHAM: He's pretty good.
DIGEST ONLINE: When did Christian first become focused on acting?
WYNDHAM: I think he probably always wanted to act, but he kept that quite under his hat while
he was growing up, although coming from an acting family, he was exposed to it. The children
used to make movies together. Christian [who's 25] is my younger one, by a few minutes. They're
only a year apart. My older son, Darian, is a filmmaker. They come by this pretty naturally -- Chris
was always talent and Darian was always the director. And you know it's the only thing my family
knows how to do. Christian acted in prep school a little bit, but the reason that most people who
knew the child were surprised that he went into acting is that he wasn't performing regularly in
school. I had made it very clear to both boys that school was for learning the humanities; that's
what I was interested in and that's what I was paying for. If they wanted to go off to specialty
schools [after college] that was fine, but my sense of it was that they would be better prepared for
whatever career they chose if they concentrated on school and on the humanities while they were
in school. And since I was footing the bills they sort of couldn't argue with that.
DIGEST ONLINE: According to the "Skylight" Playbill, Christian is a recent graduate of Juilliard's School of Drama. Did he go there directly from prep school?
WYNDHAM: No, no. He listened very carefully to what I said -- both children did. They both
went to four years of college and then Chris went into Julliard and that was quite a commitment.
[Chris went to Hobart for his undergraduate degree.] Basically, he ran the radio station there, and
turned it into a cool radio station, and played lacrosse, as well as being a liberal arts major. He
majored in art history, so he's a very interesting young man. They both are -- they both have very
wide interests in a lot of the different facets of the arts scene. They're both very good musicians:
Christian is a keyboardist and my other son is a drummer. Even as he's working in film and
commercials and the fashion industry, he's still playing in a rock band. It's basically that the apple
doesn't fall very far from the tree. We were all interested in music [in our family]; we were all
interested in art and in film and acting and so [the boys] explored all of those things. Christian is
also an incredible artist and sculptor.
DIGEST ONLINE: You did "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway in the 1960s, not far from the Royale Theater, where "Skylight" is playing now. Does all this bring back memories?
WYNDHAM: The two theaters share the same stage entrance; that's what was so incredible.
When I went backstage [at "Skylight"] on opening night, I went, "Wait a second, wait a second,"
this is the same stage door that I used to use -- that alley. "Fiddler" was at the Majestic Theater
[practically next door]. So that was deja-vous. There he was opening on Broadway and using the
same exact tunnel that I used.
DIGEST ONLINE: Did you know that Christian was auditioning for "Skylight" -- and how sizable the role of Edward was? After all, there are only three characters in the play -- Tom (the father, played by Gambon), Kyra (the ex-mistress, played by Williams) and Edward (Tom's son).
WYNDHAM: Yes, I did know it was happening. It was one of many [auditions that Chris went on]. He thought it was a longshot. I listened and went, "Oh, an English play that's coming over. They're probably going to settle for somebody who's British." He was just
out of Juilliard. I figured with a play with that small a company they'd want somebody who really
had more [experience] under his belt, and so did he. There was another play that he was quite
interested in and quite bummed that he didn't get. I guess we both didn't even talk about "Skylight"
because we just went, "Oh, well, that's a longshot." So when Chris got it, it was just unbelievable.
DIGEST ONLINE: Of course, Chris did train at Juilliard, which is probably the most prestigious conservatory program in the U.S. We've always heard that auditioning for Juilliard is as tough as auditioning for Broadway....
WYNDHAM: When Chris was finishing up at Hobart, he [realized] that if he wanted to be an
actor, he had to do it right. He listened to what I had to say, and he decided that I knew what I was
talking about. I said, "Get your four years of college, concentrate on anything but acting, because
no college is going to teach you how to act well." There is no college program I know of [at the
undergraduate level that teaches you] well enough to make you really able to compete with
world-class actors. So if you want to become world-class -- and as far as I'm concerned there's no
reason to be anything else -- you've got to go to one of the conservatories, either the Yale graduate
program or Juilliard -- those are the only two games in town that I think are any good. He
said,"What if I don't get in?" I said, "Well, then we have to find a fallback position," but I
suggested, "If you really want to do this, you get into one of those."
DIGEST ONLINE: What made him decide to take his grandfather's name, Camargo, as his professional name?
WYNDHAM: It was when we were filling out the application for Juilliard that he started thinking
about his name, because his essay had to do with his grandfather. I stayed out of that. He just
mentioned it in passing. He said, "I wonder about my name," and I said, "Well, that's something
for you to think about," but I [added], "I think Christian Minnick is a perfectly good name." Then
lo and behold that Christmas, which was my father's last Christmas with us -- he passed on a
couple of months after that, although he was totally healthy [at that point] -- we were having our
regular Christmas celebration at my house, and Chris' Christmas present to his grandfather was his
8 x 10 [acting head shot]. And his grandfather said, "Well, this is great, Chris," and Chris said,
"No, no, no turn it over." My father turned it over, and there was Chris' resume stapled carefully
onto the back, and there on the top was "Christian Camargo," and it was quite a touching moment.
We all got choked up, and that's how he told us all that he was going to take [his grandfather's
name]. And I know on some level Daddy knows. He would be so thrilled with this. He would just
be beside himself.
DIGEST ONLINE: Did you help Christian prepare for his Juilliard audition?
WYNDHAM: Naturally, I did; and so did Charles [Keating, Carl]. We both worked with him on
it, but I had picked the material. I've been in too many auditions processes on the other side of the
table, as a director, and I know how glazed over you get by the seven hundredth person doing the
same "Romeo and Juliet" or "Hamlet" or something like that. You [reach a point where] you can't
tell whether it's any good. It could be Olivier doing it, and you wouldn't know. (fyi: Christian's
Juilliard audition included Satan's soliloquy from Milton's epic poem, "Paradise Lost," which
Victoria turned into a dramatic monologue for her son. He also sang an aria from "La Traviata.")
DIGEST ONLINE: What was the "Skylight" opening night like? Were you a bundle of nerves?
WYNDHAM: Nervous does not describe it. I have never... I didn't know what was wrong with
me. I thought I was sick. I had no idea I was this scared. We were sitting at the dinner table; we
had all these people with us -- all the people who have been instrumental in helping me raise that
boy were there at the table -- all of my best friends and my mother and my sister and my
brother-in-law and Charles [Keating] and my collaborator and his wife and his family. Basically,
you know, our extended family; and all of a sudden, I think I'm going to faint. Charles looks up
and he goes, "Oh, there she goes!" And my boyfriend says, "Don't breathe," and Charles says,
"No, breathe, breathe. I've been with her before when she's like this." And I thought, "My God,
I'm getting sick." And then my mother said, "You're nervous." And I said, "I am not." And then I
realized I was. I had broken out in hives the day before. I never break out in hives. Christian was in
rehearsal, so I didn't see him. But we talked on the phone, and I knew how nervous he was. I
thought it was empathetic nerves for him. We had talked quite a great deal that week on the phone,
in between his rehearsal process, because he was trying to deal with his own nerves, trying to find
out what he should do. You know, what method you should use to deal with that kind of pressure
-- so we talked a lot that week -- and I think what I had done was just empathize with him too
much the way you do, but I didn't realize it. It really threw me. And then my best friend and I went
up to the ladies room, and she said, "Are you all right?" and I said, "I hope so." She said, "Come
on, pull yourself together." And I said, "I had no idea I was this nervous for him." She said, "Of
course, you must be." So we went over to the theater and sat down, and as soon as Chris came on,
I was fine. I knew he was on right away, thank God, or who knows if I would have gotten through
it. Luckily, I knew his entrance was right at the top [of Act I], and probably what was also
bothering me is that it's a hell of a first scene for him. I knew how difficult [that opening] scene is
even for an accomplished young man, much less a brand-new, first-experience young man. It's
extremely rapid, it's a tour de force, and it's a wonderful part that David Hare has written for some
young man. That first scene had so many rapid changes of mood and tempo in it, and yet it also
has subtlety. You have to drive that scene. So I knew what an enormous Herculean task it was,
and I think that's probably what was giving me the bends. It's a soliloquy for him for 20 minutes.
And I just thought to myself, "My God, there's an awful lot to ask of a young man," and basically
this is his first professional gig. But you know as soon as Chris came on stage, it was just as though
it was my opening night. I get pathetically nervous before I go on, and as soon as I hit the boards I
start calming down. As soon as Chris came on and started, I knew he was fine, and then I totally
relaxed and just enjoyed the performance. And he knocked my socks off.... Thank God for David
Hare. And getting a chance to work with Michael Gambon has been just unbelievably cool for
him; Gambon has been so sweet to Chris. The whole company has really embraced Chris --
including Richard Eyre, who's the director of the National Theatre.
DIGEST ONLINE: How many times have you seen "Skylight" so far?
WYNDHAM: Only twice [laughs]. Well, you know, I've been very busy, I've been touring my
own play, "Couplets," on the weekends, and doing the show and getting ready to show my horse at
Madison Square Garden, so I've been a little busy this fall.
DIGEST ONLINE: You must have been very, very proud of Chris on opening night?
WYNDHAM: There's one funny, little anecdote: [After the show] we're coming out of the stage
door, and already the paparazzi are waiting for Chris. All of a sudden, one of the photographer
gals -- not our regular soap crew, somebody I was not familiar with -- goes to the other paparazzi,
"You know who this is, don't you?" They're looking at her like, "Yeah, he's in the play and his
mother's on a soap." She says, "This is Ralph Camargo's grandson," and they look somewhat
blankly. [She points to me and tells them,] "Ralph Camargo is her father, and he was a friend of
mine." So it was like Daddy smiling on us. How many times does that happen in New York City?
Unbelievable. There we were waiting for her to say, "That's Victoria Wyndham's son"; instead she
says, "That's Ralph Camargo's grandson." And you know what else? At the opening night party at
Barbetta's [on NY's Restaurant Row], when we all walked in, everybody started applauding Chris,
and Chris just looked around to see who they were applauding for. It was so adorable. It was really
sweet for me to be with him for his first big theater experience. It brought back my own opening
nights, and was quite satisfying to see him on his way.
(WEB ALERT: For a complete schedule of upcoming "Couplets" performances -- plus fab family photos of Victoria Wyndham and her sons -- check out "The Official Victoria Wyndham Home Page" on the Web. Just go to CONTENTS, scroll down to WEBLINKS, click and find Vicky's home page button on the list box.)