Travis Daly’s dream has come true. After more than 10 years of work, study and practice, he has become the director of a Berkshire Theatre Group production in the Colonial Theatre.
Daly, who began playing in bit roles and assisting with small traveling shows, will fill the Colonial stage with 170 children and 40 adults in a revival of the musical "Oliver!" -- which opens today.
"It’s the first big show on my own," Daly declared in an interview. "They gave me a great opportunity; I’m very grateful to everybody here."
Daly’s theatrical career has evolved from his dedication to movies, which began when he was in the sixth grade in Dalton.
"I spent $7 to see seven movies every weekend." he said, "and when I was a freshman at 14 in high school I wanted to direct movies."
But that dream changed after he graduated from high school and enrolled in Berkshire Com munity College classes in acting, directing and theater history. He decided he would rather become involved in live theater than movies, and he got his start at Berkshire Theatre Festival, which has since merged into the Berkshire Theatre Group.
At the invitation of E. Gray Simon, BTG artistic director of education, Daly joined a touring company that takes plays to schools and other venues through out New England every year.
"This is my seventh year on the tours," Daly said. "In the first six years I acted in shows.
Kate Maguire, artistic director and chief operations officer of Berkshire Theatre Group, has seen Daly advance through the youth programs of the former Berkshire Theatre Festival and now into direction of a production of a major show.
"Travis has been with us for a number of years," she said. "He began with us as an intern with great curiosity and incredible enthusiasm for the theater. He has blossomed into a director of stature and an individual who cares deeply about transforming children, particularly those in need, through the power and art of theatre."
Daly has welcomed the rec ognition for his accomplishments, saying: "It’s a big opportunity for me. I also think of it as a big opportunity for the community. The cast is made up of people from all over the county, from (kids in) second grade to (adults) in their 60s.
They live in Williamstown, Shef field. Stock bridge and Farm ington. Almost every school district is represented.
"I’m the boss. It’s a challenge. I look at it as a big challenge for myself," he said. "I’m working on all the details to try to make it the best show ever. I’ve been working on this show for eight months -- I spend all my time thinking about it.
"I love all of it. I love the casting, building and painting the sets. the lighting, sound, and staging. Doing touring shows were nothing like this."
Daly also directs after-school programs for middle and elementary pupils and college graduates in the Berkshires. On top of that he is employed as artistic director of the theater arts program in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, for which he produces five shows a year.
Now that he is directing his first major show, he is constantly on the run, carrying his "office" in a bulky black bag.
All of his activity in the theater does not mean that Daly has given up taking in movies. His favorites now are Pixar and Dreamworks cartoons that he finds "make it easy to relate to the stories and the way the movies are constructed."
Asked if he would like to become a Hollywood movie director he replied: "I’m pretty much invested in the community here, and I would like to keep working with kids. But if I had a chance to direct a movie, of course I’d do it. We will see what happens."