Tri-State Theater

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Remembering Danny Ray

   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: 

   Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert issued the following statement today upon learning of the sudden passing of faculty member Danny Ray.
   “The entire Marshall community was deeply saddened today to learn one of our valued faculty members has passed away.
   “I got a chance to meet Danny a few weeks ago at the John Marshall Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. He welcomed me into the competition and we even took a ‘selfie’ photo together with some of the students. He was a dedicated mentor who rebuilt Marshall’s speech and debate team and helped make it one of the leading teams in the entire country.
   “We will all remember his spirit and contributions to the Marshall family. He was a true son of Marshall.
   “Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”
   A graduate of Marshall, Ray was an instructor in the Department of Communication Studies and coached the university’s award-winning “Thundering Word” Speech and Debate Team.
   Just this weekend, the team competed in the 2016 West Virginia Intercollegiate Forensics Association (WVIFA) tournament—winning the state title for the sixth consecutive time. The “Thundering Word” brought home first-place awards in Combined Sweepstakes and Individual Events Sweepstakes, as well as second place in Debate Sweepstakes.
   Ray joined the Marshall faculty in August 2010 and taught classes including Intercollegiate Debate, Fundamentals of  Speech Communication and Special Topics in Forensic Competition. He currently served as the president of WVIFA.

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