Archabbey's tailor enjoys nights in stage spotlight
Most of us are lucky if we have one talent, but David Seremet, 64, of Latrobe is doubly blessed. By day, he is the tailor for St. Vincent Archabbey in Unity, and by night he treads the boards of local theaters as an actor.
The Latrobe native's ties to St. Vincent run through both his vocation and avocation. His grandfather, John Seremet, was the Archabbey's tailor from 1907 until his death in 1957. His first acting mentor was the late Father Thomas Devereaux, founder and producer for the St. Vincent Summer Theatre.
Seremet and his wife, Janet, a teacher, have a daughter, Molly Seremet, who is following her father's lead by pursuing a master of fine arts degree in Shakespeare and theatrics at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va.
Question: Which came first, acting or tailoring?
Answer: I started out as an actor, but, when my daughter was born, my wife made me get a real job. I've been the tailor for the monastery since 2013. Before that, I was with Men's Warehouse for 17 years and Kaufmann's for nine years.
Q: What was your first acting experience?
A: I was a sophomore in high school at Latrobe when we did the first musical that anybody did around here, “Li'l Abner.” I was skinny, short, shy and introverted, and they needed skinny guys to go into a machine and come out as muscle men. They pulled me in out of the hall. I'd never been on stage, and I was scared to death.
Father Tom walked me through it and said, “Why are you so nervous? When you get your first laugh, it's going to be like a hit of drugs.” He was right; from that day on, I didn't have to be shy anymore.
Q: Tell us a little about your acting career.
A: I was a theater major at Penn State. When I was younger, I did more musical theater and comedies because, physically, I was not the leading-man type. I'm Cary Grant trapped in the body of Don Knotts. It's only in the last five or six years that I've gotten back into the heavier roles. There's a lot more out there for men of a certain age than for women.
The largest stage I've performed on is the Ohio Theatre in Columbus; I believe it was in “Cabaret.” I did one little thing in New York. Most of my work as a professional has been with voice-overs and commercials. My biggest commercials were for Bell Telephone back when they introduced call waiting. I also did their in-house training videos in New York and some in Pittsburgh.
Q: What is your favorite role?
A: My favorite role is one I just did, the original play written for me called “Celibacy,” by John Carosella (a Cabaret Theatre production in the Latrobe Art Center). It was written for me as a Christmas gift. We've been working on it for four years; we'd sit in a bar and talk about it over a martini. So many of my own words made it into the script that maybe there wasn't a whole lot of acting required! It was my most meaty role.
Q: Do you have a dream role?
A: I would like to play Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman.” That's the one I would kill for.
I'm also doing some really interesting stuff with John Carosella. We're going to do musicals, comedy, Shakespeare's “Midsummer Night's Dream” (after the Cabaret Theatre opens in June). Not everyone is going to like everything we do, but you'll find something you do like.
Q: What does your tailoring work entail?
A: I make all of the habits that the monks wear — there are about 120 of them — and for monasteries scattered throughout the country. The new novices get a new habit when they come in, and, once they pass their novitiate year, they get another one. I have 18 I have to make by May.
The habits are very fitted and very complicated, and they take about 24 hours to make. I make albs and do some vestment repair.
The last two tailors died while they were here, and so did my grandfather, so that doesn't bode real well for me!
Q: Do you have time for other pursuits?
A: I'm here during the day and I'm on stage at night, so our Christmas tree didn't even come down till last week. But I do stop at Sharky's every day for my glass of wine.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or email@example.com.