Maxwell Caulfield Bares His Soul

Eavesdropping on conversations at the Promenade Theater during an intermission of its current attraction is as intriguing as the play itself. It seems that the audience is mesmerized by TRYST, Karoline Leach's play, and are eager to converse while they are stretching their legs. One couple was sure they'd solved the mystery that was unfolding. A well-coiffed woman knew exactly how the play was going to end, and two gay men were expressing their pleasure in Maxwell Caulfield's impressive physique. There was animated chatter until the second act resumed. From that point on, one could hear the proverbial pin drop: no mobile phones rang, no candy was unwrapped, no one coughed. The audience was eager to resume bonding with the psychological thriller it was watching.

TRYST tells the story of George Love, a self-confessed con man, and a spinster named Adelaide Pinchin, who works for a milliner. The drama is set in 19th Century England and provides two choice roles for exceptional actors. These are admirably filled by the aforementioned Caulfield and Amelia Campbell. Together the actors create theatrical fireworks and keep the audiences immersed in what they are doing on stage. Ms Campbell utterly transforms herself into a frail, unwed woman and fully embodies her character for the entire evening. Caulfield commands the stage both physically and emotionally and draws the audience into the plot immediately. As the evening progresses, theatergoers get to discover who these characters really are and how they are truly motivated. The result is a splendid evening in the theater.

Meeting Caulfield backstage after the performance found him to be extremely accessible and loquacious. Up close, he's even more handsome than he appears on stage and his blue eyes focus intently upon the person he's conversing with. He speaks openly and with great humor; traits that become even more evident two days later during a telephone conversation that was supposed to last a mere twenty minutes but ran on for closer to an hour. This is the actor who made a great impression on New York audiences in 1981 when he played the title role in the acclaimed revival of Joe Orton's ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE. His career has included tours of THE ELEPHANT MAN, SLEUTH, and SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH at Williamstown. He also appeared in the Royal National Theater's production of THE INSPECTOR CALLS on Broadway and with Jessica Tandy in SALONIKA at the Public Theater. Caulfield is the proud recipient of the Theater World Award for his performance in CLASS ENEMY. American television viewers will remember him as Miles Colby in DYNASTY and movie audiences will recall him from THE BOYS NEXT DOOR with Charlie Sheen, THE REAL BLONDE and GREASE 2 opposite Michelle Pfeifer. That's quite an impressive roster for an actor who appears so much younger than the calendar would suggest.

Caulfield is extremely enthusiastic about his current role. "We do have a road to hoe, Amelia and I. Neither of us has just come off a TV series or have a big movie in wide release, but I do feel at the end of the day, that we're well cast. I know that we bounce off each other well and I hope that's the way it feels out in the auditorium. We've enjoyed the process with Joe Brancato (the play's director) a great deal."

Born in Scotland, Caulfield came to the United States when he was 18, something he considers "an epochal moment." He admits that he always had a desire to be an American. "I came here to give myself something of a makeover. I was very keen to shed my English roots. Not disown my past or upbringing, but I'd admired American actors, really American movie stars--particularly the rebel heroes of the 50's. The anti-heroes. The Dean-Brando-Clift school of performance. I got to the point where it was almost obsessive. You know, when you're in school you want to be popular and Dean was so very popular with the kids. I didn't want to be a hero to kids; I didn't think I had that. I just wanted to be popular. Really I got turned on to James Dean well before I saw EAST OF EDEN. He certainly was ground breaking and he certainly was an incandescent screen presence."

His acting career began when he was quite young. "I was in a movie called ACCIDENT. I wasn't a child actor at all but my mother was the secretary to Harold Pinter and Joe Losey was the director. It was a very wonderful adult drama with Dirk Bogard, Stanley Baker and Vivien Merchant. I played the son of Dirk Bogard; a very brief role, but I was on a movie set when I was six. As I think back on it, that's what cemented it."

Caulfield admits to having a natural propensity for being a storyteller and recalls doing so in school: "It started very young. I remember that during the lunch break I was in primary school that educated you up to the age of ten. It was during lunch hour where we were forced to 'rest' during the lunch hour. We would lie around on the floor of the hall in the school (right after we'd eaten, which was kind of stupid as well!). We were all lying there rather restless; squirming and wriggling on the floor. I got permission to tell stories, and it turned into this rather long-running saga of basically my little coterie of buddies. It was the story of some sort of endless race. If I remember correctly it was across some sort of wild landscape. We were always in pursuit of something or running away from something-I can't remember. Anyway, everyone used to look forward to me telling the latest installment. Actually, I used to make it up on the spot.

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Joe Panarello is one of those people who have most certainly been born with theater in their blood. As an actor, Joe has played such varied roles as Harry Roat in Frederick Knott's Wait Until Dark, Jimmy Smith in No, No Nanette and Lazer Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof a vehicle he's performed in several times and designed the sets for on one occasion. He's also directed productions of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park and Henrich Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Joe is a respected author and although his latest work, The Authoritative History of Corduroy won't be published until this summer, it is already being translated into several different languages by a group of polyglot nuns in Tormento, Italy.. The proceeds from their labors will go to the restoration of the nearby Cathedral of Gorgonzola.