DANVILLE — Ever since he was in a play at Trinity Lutheran School, Ron McDaniel has been passionate about acting. Even when the stage curtain fell on the child’s head, the world of theater didn’t lose its magic.
Several years later, McDaniel is getting national recognition for his service to community theater on a non-paid basis — both on the stage and behind the scenes.
McDaniel is one of three recipients of the Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award, presented by the American Association of Community Theatre. The awards will be presented during the week-long aactWorldFest in June in Florida.
“It is a real honor to be acknowledged for something I have enjoyed so much,” McDaniel said.
During his 53 years in community theater, he has appeared in 48 plays and musicals, and directed six. He also has served 48 years on the DLO Musical Theatre, formerly known as Danville Light Opera, board of directors.
McDaniel said he didn’t know he had been nominated for the award until he received a letter from the association. The executive committee of DLO Musical Theatre had nominated him.
Rick Welchans, president of the board, saw nominations for the award were being accepted, and immediately thought of McDaniel.
“He’s an icon in this community as far as musical theater is concerned,” Welchans said — and not just musical theater, but all theater.
Only two or three such awards are given each year across the country, so it is an honor, Welchans said, adding, “We appreciate him and we’re glad he’s on the board.”
McDaniel recalled that he always enjoyed watching old MGM musicals. In 1961, he saw a hand-written sign announcing auditions in Danville for “Annie Get Your Gun” at the former YWCA. He was a student at Danville Junior College at the time, and had limited time to audition and rehearse.