Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series about the Summit High School students who were awarded this year’s Summit County Arts Exhibit Committee’s Bob Anderson Memorial Art Scholarships.
Danny Daigle took his first steps as a performer during a Lake Dillon Theatre Company workshop when he was in third grade, and he’s been a fixture at the theater ever since, dabbling in everything from acting to set building to teaching.
From his first performances in grade school, Daigle progressed through middle school drama, which he said was all about exposure and having fun, and into the theater program at Summit High School. There, he had his first try at putting on a show that was meant to bring in an audience and make money.
“My first show at the high school was ‘It’s Great to Be Crazy,’ which is a farce,” he said. “More than just exposure, it was developing skills at a higher level, which was an eye-opening experience, a change in direction. … Just a change of pace that drew me in more than I expected. It went from a pastime to something you’re passionate about and doing every day and involved with. Now every day of my life is that.”
Daigle said he spent his underclassman years getting to meet some incredible people through his work in the theater, and he learned skills he was able to pass on as an upperclassman, both through the high school and his work at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company.
“It’s really cool because now I’m a counselor at the theater workshops,” Daigle said. “I get to now inspire kids the way counselors there inspired me to do theater. That’s how I got involved with theater, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Sharing with others
Tim Pare, director of education at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, said Daigle joined the company last year as part of its acting intern program, performing in last summer’s “Scapin.” He then joined the staff as a full-time intern, working as a stagehand and becoming Pare’s teaching assistant.
“As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of directing him in a show over at the high school and seeing him in several works,” Pare said. “He brings sort of a fearless energy; he’s willing to try anything no matter how goofy it makes him look or seem. … He’s definitely very skilled, even beyond his age, an advanced performer.”
Pare said Daigle takes his strengths as an actor and applies them to his teaching.
“As a teacher, he can relate to the kids in a terrific way, having gone through the program himself,” Pare said. “He brings enthusiasm and a sense of humor that the kids definitely appreciate. He speaks to them as a peer, that’s what’s really special about him — he talks to them the way he would engage his own friends or elders.
“He comes up with some creative lesson plans, works with the kids on character building. He teaches them to take big risks; if you’re going to fall, fall on your face, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. He’s always willing to go above and beyond to make a fool of himself, which I think they appreciate because they like to laugh.”
Daigle said his work with the Lake Dillon Theatre Company this summer has precluded him from performing elsewhere because it takes up so much of his time, but he’s OK with that.
“I’ll have plenty of opportunities for that in the future,” he said. “I love sharing my passion through teaching. I’ve tutored other subjects, so I’ve always kind of had passion for teaching and education, but it’s really nice getting to view theater as a whole. Throughout the year I have interned with the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, I’ve done lights and sound and been a stagehand, so I’ve had a full scope of theater.”
Taking the next step
Daigle is one of two Summit High School graduates who have been awarded this year’s Summit County Arts Exhibit Committee’s Bob Anderson Memorial Art Scholarships to pursue their crafts at the collegiate level. He will attend the University of Wyoming in the fall, majoring in musical theater.
“I’m looking forward to actually developing my skills and having classes that work on making me a better actor, a better singer, a better dancer,” Daigle said. “To dive deeper into scene studies and breaking down a script. Getting more into detail with my education than I have in the past.
“We didn’t have any drama classes in high school, everything we learned was experiences through the theater department. It will be nice to have classes that spend a lot of time developing these skills, as opposed to a couple-month session where not all of your time is put into developing those skills.”
Pare, who coached Daigle through his college admittance and scholarship auditions and worked with him firsthand selecting and developing pieces, said he thinks the Summit High grad will be terrific in college theater.
“He’s got exactly the right attitude,” Pare said. “He reminds me of myself at that age, willing to try everything and learn everything and fully immerse himself in the program. That’s what universities need. They need students who step in that way, conditioned that way, so they know what they’re getting themselves into.”
Daigle said what he loves about the theater can be summarized in one word:
“Everything,” he said with a laugh. “And that’s a terrible answer, but there’s nothing I don’t like about theater except the terrible pay. I guess overall I really enjoy getting to be another person for a little bit and get to see the world through a different set of eyes and to have a different set of morals and values and ideas for that set period of time while I’m that character. It gives you a broader understanding of the world and what’s in it and how to react in different situations.”
“It’s been a pleasure working with him and it’s going to be tough not having him around next year because he’ll be off at school doing some great things,” Pare said.
“He reminds me of myself at that age, willing to try everything and learn everything and fully immerse himself in the program.”