Interview with Devil in the Deck co-star and musical director, John Anaya

Q: The show “Devil in the Deck” has you as a guitar player and co-star, tell us, how that works.

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Well, yes, mainly, I play guitar and act as musical director for the show, you know, basically the soundtrack so the audience does not get bored with Paul’s dialogue. It helps move the script. Our director, Drew Letchworth, started noticing, that during rehearsals, I would make faces and, sort of, react to the script in mostly funny ways. Drew decided that I should act as a “sideman” and help the audience react to the script. Almost giving them permission to laugh, cry, or scream. Eventually, I was given lines and characters to support Paul. And, now the Devil is a two man show, but don't tell the magician that.

Q: How long have you been working on this show with Paul Nathan?

I started working with him on “Devil in the Deck”. We met through a Craigslist ad, seeking guitar, in 2003. Its been 10 long years.

Q: How did you come to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

That was all Paul's doing.  I think he created this show with festivals in mind. He had been to Edinburgh before and was doing a lot of touring in the UK and Europe.  I had never performed outside of the US so for me this was an amazing opportunity which has really broadened my horizons. I owe it all to Paul Nathan. 

Q: What guitar influences do you have and how do they affect your writing for the show?

My influences are all over the map but, I found that, with Paul, it was the instrumental players like Django, Les Paul, Jerry Reed, Jim Campilongo that seemed to resonate best for the show. I am a songwriter, but, I have thousands of little riffs to pull from that tease of styles that are great in helping support the script. Flamenco, Blues and lots of little gags and jokes and sound effects are what I turn to the most for this show.

Q: Have you ever considered having more musicians on the show with you?

Yes! I once had drums, accordion, and cello! I wish I could have that all the time and a trumpet player. 

Q: Paul Nathan loves making fun of the size of your head, tell us, what role does your head have in the show?

My head is the real star of the show. It truly has a mind of its own.

Q: Is all the music original?

Mostly, but, I definitely use classic pieces of music to help the audience feel familiar with a certain part. Sometimes, I add in TV theme show music and movie themes. The card tricks become a great opportunity for Paul and I to screw with the audience. It could be a comment, a t-shirt or a name that can create the best musical moment of our show. We are jazz, at the end of the day, and Paul and I are an ensemble that works the crowd.

Q: Where do you see this show in 10 years?



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