Denfeld News

July 25, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

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 loved theater.

“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 again.

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 something.”

Hollywood Bowl is a natural amphitheater in Los Angeles that seats about 18,000 and is home to the Philharmonic Symphony.

“Basically, it is the closest you can get to Broadway on the West Coast,” Raimo said.

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