The theatre community in the Tri-State was shocked this morning by news of the sudden passing of teacher / director / actor Danny Ray.
Danny was a force of nature, a terrific craftsman who was an amazing actor, a terrific director and a wonderful guy. The outpouring of love on social media has been wonderful to see, and an obvious sign of how many lives he touched.
He graduated from Marshall University, starring in numerous shows with the Theatre Department. After graduating, he worked as a professional actor, eventually returning home to Huntington where he shared his talents both on stage and behind the scenes.
He worked with young actors as an instructor and as a director, creating amazing shows like Into the Woods (somehow staging a terrific version of the show on the tiny stage at the Museum of Art), the hugely successful Rocky Horror Live, The King and I, Nunsense, Big Fish, Noises Off, The Sound of Music, and one of the best community shows I've ever seen, Avenue Q. There are just a few of the many shows he directed.
He wasn't perfect, of course - he could be flinty and fierce in fighting for his actors and his concepts - but he was a big ol' lovable bear of a guy and a real treasure, with a big laugh and a bigger heart.
He was so wonderful on stage, I selfishly wanted him to do more and more shows - but his career as an instructor at Marshall took up a lot of his time.
My heart goes out to his family and his wide-ranging army of friends on this sad and difficult day.
Marshall University sent out this statement today: