Piano tuners team up for Milford theater company

MILFORD — Christmas has come early for one Milford-based theater troupe.

Bert Bernardi, co-producer with Pantochino Productions, said the group has longed for a baby grand piano, but the cost was prohibitive, leaving them with an older piano and no hope for a newer model. That all changed recently, thanks to the Piano Technicians Guild.

“We were delighted to get a baby grand piano in our studio,” said Bernardi. “When this opportunity came, we were thrilled because we would have lived with the piano the way it was. There was not a line in our budget to restore our piano.”

Pantochino Productions is a non-profit theater company that puts on family-friendly productions.

Bernardi said bringing the baby grand piano to Pantochino was primarily the work of Gina Bonfietti, a member of the guild and owner of piano-tuning company Gina’s Piano.

“We had bought a piano from Savers for a few dollars, and (Bonfietti) came in to tune that,” said Bernardi. “She asked me if we had a need for a baby grand piano, and she said she knew someone who would be downsizing one day. Then I get a phone call from (Bonfietti) telling me there was a baby grand piano coming to the studio.”

Bernardi said the theater would not have been able to afford a baby grand piano, let alone the tuning and restoration process.

Bonfietti said the level of work Pantochino’s piano required would run about $1,000 a day, but the work is being done by volunteers from the Piano Technicians Guild’s Connecticut chapter.

“We hope to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time,” she said.

“There will be three or four groups of people working on the piano,” said Bonfietti. “We would also like to invite new technicians or people who are thinking about doing this as a career and are curious about what we do as piano technicians.”

The restoration and tuning process will take place on June 15.

“We have technicians coming from all over the state,” said Bonfietti. “Everyone is going to have a chance to look over the piano and decide what is the best way to attack the project, and then we will discuss it. Then we will decide what we can get done with three separate groups in four to five hours.”

Bonfietti said the hammers of the piano are from 1968, and the gentleman who owned the piano was a full-time piano teacher.

“They’ve been used, but there is still some life left to them,” she said. “Some of these pianos can last for 100 years.”

Those interested in seeing the restoration and tuning process can contact Bonfietti at 203-882-8082 or gina@ginaspiano.com.

“This piano will be used for rehearsals for many years to come,” said Bernardi.

Upcoming Pantochino productions include a celebration of Pride Month with the debut of a new musical, “As Long As We’re Talking,” for a limited engagement of four performances June 24-26 at the Milford Arts Council (MAC) on Railroad Avenue in downtown Milford. The summer teen theater will be presenting “Grease” in the coming weeks.