Met Opera star back on Phils’ stage

Posted April 7, 2014 / Last updated April 24, 2014

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From The Blue Jay, Vol. 86, No. 5, April 2014

By Jason LaHatte, Staff Writer

‘Damn Yankees’ is a homecoming for Kirk Redmann,’79

Spring training has begun on baseball diamonds across the country, and the excitement of the ballpark has even extended to the stage of the Phils.

Bringing the crack of the bat and the smell of the grass and Cracker Jacks to the auditorium, Jesuit’s Philelectic Society is now staging one of Broadway’s most popular hit musicals, “Damn Yankees.”

The spring musical production is a modern retelling of the Faust legend, set in the 1950s, and revolving around the longtime rivalry between the Washington Senators and the perennial powerhouse, those “damn” New York Yankees. The show opens with a long-suffering fan, Joe Boyd, lamenting the Senator’s lousy record and need of a star player. Enter Mr. Applegate, a devilish song-and-dance man who offers Boyd one hell of a deal.

The students in the cast will be joined by a special guest star, Mr. Kirk Redmann, a former star on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The tenor is playing the role of the older Joe Boyd, who gets the chance to live out his dream (for a price) to become a major league baseball player. Mr. Redmann, Class of 1979, realized his own dreams as a singer, beginning his career right here on the stage with the Phils.

During a break in rehearsals, he shared with The Blue Jay his thoughts on his musical career and his stage homecoming.

“It is such a great opportunity to be back with the Phils,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for me. Working with director Kate Arthurs-Goldberg and choreographer Kenny Beck, who was in my class, bring back so many memories.”

He said he also recognizes how important and encouraging it is for the members of the Phils to know of its long traditions.

“Alumni are very supportive of the Philelectic Society,” he said. “I think it’s great to have the connection between the older and younger Phils. I know that for the future, more Phils’ alums, including the girls from other schools, will be invited back to perform. It’s great to have this connection going.”

Some of Mr. Redmann’s most treasured memories of Jesuit revolve around his participation with the Phils. Indeed, one of the key messages he has for current students is that the relationships they are establishing now, especially within the Philelectic Society, will be lifelong friendships.

“I remember back in my junior year, we had an infamous production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I was Judas and Mitch Landrieu was Jesus,” he said. Mr. Redmann has remained friends through the years with the current mayor of New Orleans. “Every time he sees me, he asks, ‘Are you going to kiss me?’ And I say, ‘Only if I have to,’” he said with a laugh.

Mr. Redmann’s ties to Jesuit cross several generations. His father graduated in 1945. And all of father’s nine brothers are Blue Jays. Several nephews also have come through Carrollton and Banks.

“One uncle, Class of 1940, also was in the Phils,” he said. “So both Jesuit and the Phils have a long tradition in our family.”

Following his graduation from Jesuit, Mr. Redmann earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Tulane University, where he often appeared on stage with Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre. His first professional came at Loyola University’s Summer Workshop program.

“It was in ‘Damn Yankees’ during the summer between my sophomore and junior years,” he said. “It’s funny that my first professional role was the young Joe, and now I am playing the elder Joe Boyd,” he said.

Mr. Redmann’s operatic career led him to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, as well as opera houses around the world. He made his debut at the Met in 1983.

“I was the youngest tenor to ever debut at the Metropolitan,” he said. Only days before his 22nd birthday, he appeared as the Sailor in Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde.” The Christmas Eve performance was broadcast nationally.

As part of the Met’s Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Redmann appeared as Edmondo in Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut,” opposite such star sopranos as Carol Neblett and Mirella Freni. On the Met stage, he also appeared in such operas as Verdi’s “La Traviata” and “Rigoletto,” Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette,” Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Dalila.”

In addition to New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Redman has appeared with such American companies as the New Orleans Opera, the Michigan Opera Theatre, the New Jersey State Opera, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the San Diego Opera, among others. Internationally, he has appeared on stages from Nice in France to Hong Kong.

His advice to his younger co-stars in the current production of “Damn Yankees,” as well as to all of his fellow Blue Jays, is simple.

“Pursue your dreams,” Mr. Redmann said. “My mother was an opera singer, so I have wanted to be an opera singer throughout my whole life. Young people need to hold onto their dreams and be realistic about them.”