July 25, 2009
Denfeld grad cast with Hollywood stars
in 'Guys and Dolls'
By Christa Lawler
David Raimo’s latest theater gig has him
running with a crowd of paparazzi-attracting celebrities and a choreographer
with a Tony Award.
The Duluth native drove to Los Angeles in March,
went to an audition, was called back to dance and landed a part
in a stage production of “Guys and Dolls,” which will
be performed July 31-Aug. 2 at Hollywood Bowl.
Raimo said he is in about six scenes, including
the opening number as a sailor, and as a craps shooter in “Luck
Be a Lady.”
His castmates include Jessica Biel (of the TV
show “Seventh Heaven” — an Ely native) as Sarah
Brown, Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap”) as Nathan Detroit,
and Beau Bridges as Arvide Abernathy. The director is Richard Jay-Alexander,
who directed “Les Miserables” at Hollywood Bowl last
summer. The choreographer is Donna McKechnie, who won a Tony Award
for Best Actress in a Musical in 1976 for her role as Cassie in
“A Chorus Line.”
“I’m ecstatic to be part of the cast,”
Raimo said in a phone interview Thursday.
“Everyone is so kind, and everyone really
knows what they are doing. I’m trying to be a sponge and trying
to learn from the people around me. I’m just beaming, hearing
these people perform and watching them act.”
Rehearsals began Monday, Raimo said, and last
eight hours a day. He has seen paparazzi get shooed away, and has
had a conversation with Biel about whether she can sing. (She has,
reportedly, been taking lessons for the role).
Raimo’s credits include, among others, parts
in the North American Tour of “Cats” and the National
Tour of “Chicago,” “Damn Yankees” and “Urban
Cowboy, the Musical.” He earned a BFA from Oklahoma City University
in music theater.
Liz Larson, who directed Raimo in “Oklahoma,”
Duluth’s 2001 all-city musical, has stayed in contact with
him over the years. Larson described the performer when he was a
high school student as someone with a big presence who obviously
“You can’t have a career in entertainment
without really enjoying it,” Larson said. “You have
to be willing to accept you might live in a box; you have to be
willing to accept rejection. If you make it through, and keep your
sense of humor and realize it’s not so much about you as it
is about it, then you’re OK.”
Raimo, Larson said, got this. She remembered reprimanding
him for hamming it up during a group dance number in the performance.
He took her criticism seriously and didn’t make the same mistake
Raimo graduated in 2003 from Duluth Denfeld, where
he was involved with the Solid Gold singing group. He is the second-youngest
of five children in a musical family.
“David can play any instrument except the
flute,” said his mother, Jullianne Raimo. “He excelled
at piano and French horn. How we knew he was really good: He said,
‘Mom, listen to this symphony I heard on the radio,’
and then played it. That’s when I knew we were dealing with
Hollywood Bowl is a natural amphitheater in Los
Angeles that seats about 18,000 and is home to the Philharmonic
“Basically, it is the closest you can get
to Broadway on the West Coast,” Raimo said.