SHERIDAN — If you get involved in theater in Sheridan, you’re likely to run into DannyLee Hodnett.
His passion for the art becomes apparent within just a few minutes into conversations with the 38-year-old.
The self-described “determined bald dude” works as theater faculty at Sheridan College and is the producing artistic director of the Wyoming Theater Festival, which wrapped up a successful second year over the summer.
For the festival, he produces a series of plays, readings, workshops, talkbacks and more in an effort to bring cultural tourism dollars into the local economy. The festival brings in big-name theater talent from across the country. It allows new plays to be tested before taking on larger audiences in bigger cities.
Hodnett moved to Sheridan from California in 2011.
“My wife, Brenda, and I came here because we were looking for a better place than Los Angeles to raise our two kids, the oldest of which was about to start kindergarten,” Hodnett said. “We found Sheridan online and were intrigued by the area’s artistic and literary culture. There was an opening in the theater faculty at Sheridan College, so we applied.
“We got the job, packed our things and put down roots here,” Hodnett continued.
In addition to leading the charge for the Wyoming Theater Festival and teaching his art to students at Sheridan College, Hodnett also participates in productions for the Civic Theatre Guild.
When asked why he participates and seeks to promote and grow the arts community, Hodnett said, “because Sheridan’s creative culture is precious and I want to be a part of its preservation and its evolution.”
He’s certainly done that.
Hodnett said from the first to second year of the WyoTF, a 180 percent gain in ticket sales was realized.
This year’s festival included “Ring of Fire” and “East of Heart Mountain,” which drew capacity audiences. The play is based on the story of a local woman, Cora Reed, who listened to the radio for news of prisoners of war during World War II and wrote letters to the soldiers’ families.
Plans for the 2017 WyoTF are already in the works and the dates for the festival are set for July 20-30.
Sheridan College Director of Marketing and Communications Wendy Smith couldn’t say enough about Hodnett.
“One of the great things about DannyLee is the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the topic no matter what you’re discussing,” Smith said.
“He brought big ideas to Sheridan and to Sheridan College,” she continued. “Our students, staff and the residents of the Sheridan area benefit from his hard work.”