Being a world class props designer requires an enormous amount of imagination and creativity. Dayna Fries has truckloads of both! She’ll need them to outfit a secret Nazi laboratory set in WW II and do it on a budget!

Here’s where the hotdog spiralizers come in. It is, as the name implies, a tool that enables you to turn a hotdog into a spiral of beefy byproducts. Only a props designer would see spiralizers for sale and think “I can make something with those!” And she will.

Dayna has a passion for theatre that has its origins in a tale of redemption. Before her theatre days, Dayna worked a 9-to-5 job for many years, mostly office management and HR. For the most part she enjoyed the work. That is, until 2008, when her job was so awful that her always supportive husband Brian suggested she quit. And she did.

With her now free time, Dayna hung out with her best friend, who also happened to be her mom. These were treasured moments. Dayna and her mom made the most of them, not knowing they would all too soon come to an end. After a spell of unexplained back pain, Dayna’s mom was suddenly admitted to the hospital with cancer. She passed away a month later.

Out of the crippling depression that ensued, Dayna eventually saw a path. She would enroll in a nursing program at Brookhaven and follow in the footsteps of the nurses who had cared for her mom. She also registered for an elective course,  “Introduction to Theatre” taught by Michael Robinson, little knowing how it would change her life. Michael encouraged Dayna to sign up for an acting class, soon to be followed by other acting classes. It felt like rehab in the best of ways.

Finally it was time for Dayna to leave the comfort of Brookhaven and try her hand at local theatre. Her second show was with Pegasus (playing the role of a nurse!) and we knew immediately she would become part of the family. Dayna is as talented as an actor as she is at props design. (She is also a stage manager and can run a light board.) We count ourselves lucky to have met her!

Happily, the feeling is mutual. Dayna fits in perfectly with our culture. She finds us to be organized and intensely focused on the well-being of the actors (which includes paying a fair wage, exempting actors from any non-acting tasks such as set strike, and of course feeding actors.) Says Dayna, “It made me feel like a real actor.”

What’s next for Dayna? She now works full-time in theatre, combining a part-time job in the theatre department at Brookhaven with regular work at various area theatres in her fields of expertise (acting, props, stage management). We look forward to many more opportunities to work with this multi-talented woman!