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From Canyon to Cove: Embedded with a theater group

July 22, 2010|By Cindy Frazier

The Devil is a piano tuner. No kidding.

When David Stoneman, who plays Applegate in Gallimaufry Performing Arts' production of "Damn Yankees," told me this, I didn't know whether to believe him.

After all, Stoneman is not only a masterful singer, but a play actor — and a kidder. He is clearly relishing his role as the Trickster who convinces a poor sap from Chevy Chase, Md., to sell his soul to make sure his losing team, the Washington Senators, beats the Yankees.

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So I smiled agreeably when Stoneman answered my question about what he did when not "trodding the boards," as he likes to say, and took it with a grain of salt. But then he showed up to a rehearsal a few days later in his work clothes: a shirt emblazoned with the moniker of the Amalgamated Union of Piano Tuners (or some such name). In fact, he's a registered piano tuner.

I had to give him credit for being such a convincing Devil. I was sure he was making it all up.

It's been a real treat working alongside these wonderful singers, dancers and actors all pulling together to bring this three-ring-circus of a musical to the stage.

It's like Musical Summer Camp for adults, or being "embedded" with a theater group, and I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

One of the most delightful things about being part of a Gallimaufry production is being in the company of a very talented family, the Josephsons.

Steve, the artistic director, is a whirlwind who can pull together two major musicals at the same time — "Yankees" and "2116" — and still have the mental energy to shepherd another production, "Carnival Knowledge," onto the stage.

I've been on the receiving end of Steve's breathless news releases over the years and always wondered how he managed multiple projects: musicals, dance programs, variety shows.

Now I can reveal his secret: It's Julie, his wife.

Julie is not only a very talented actress but the one who seamlessly pulls it all together; she knows just what is needed in every scene, with every actor. We have all gone to her at some point with a special problem. My problem has been voice projection. How to speak loudly enough to be heard in the rear of the theater, without shouting myself hoarse and losing inflection. She — and Stoneman, a trained opera singer — gave me some pointers and I went home and practiced.

I don't have a lot of lines, but I want to make sure they get heard and do their job.

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