By Diane Stortz
Combine the good looks and energy of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest with the lovable charm of Bob Barker, retired host of The Price Is Right, and what do you get? Why, Daniel Read, of course.
Read, a Cincinnati Christian University senior, plays Wade Winalot, host of “Studio GO! Game Show,” Standard Publishing’s 2009 Vacation Bible School. From his taped appearances on the planning CD and theme song music video to live appearances in seven states and 11 venues in 2008–09, Read plays Winalot with a wallop of friendliness, enthusiasm, and grace.
He plays real life with those same characteristics.
Standard Publishing marketing manager Bob Wallace tapped Read for the role. Wallace had worked as prop manager for CCU’s 2006 Christmas Dinner Theater, where Read played an “always-smiling, ’70s-disco, John Travolta-type character.”
“Bob called in January and asked if I’d like to play a flamboyant, charming character for Standard’s VBS,” Read recalls. “I didn’t really know the extent of what I was getting into.” But the role had immediate appeal, and Read is no stranger to adventure. He said yes.
The role had consequences too. “I prepared three ways,” Read remembers. “I had to shave my beard. I had to grow out my hair. And I watched a lot of YouTube videos of The Price Is Right.”
“Daniel was great!” says Ruth Frederick, director of children’s product for Standard Publishing. “He loves to act and he knows VBS, so he could deliver the lines as well as ad lib when needed.”
“At the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando, Florida, I improvised a lot,” Read says. The schedule called for 20-to-30 minute segments followed by short breaks, all day long. Daniel invited kids and adults to join him to play games on the “Studio GO!” stage near the Standard Publishing booth on the show floor.
Games included unscrambling words, answering trivia questions, and spinning the six-foot game wheel. “Everyone wanted to spin that wheel,” Read recalls. Winning game contestants selected one of several numbered boxes to claim the prize inside.
Read earned a nickname, “the sitter of ICRS,” because Wade Winalot and the “Studio GO!” stage captivated kids attending the show with their parents. One boy in particular sat on a bench in front of the stage each morning until Read arrived. “I think throughout the show there were only two times I was on stage that he wasn’t up there with me,” Read says. “And he was great, always cheering for the other kids to win.”
Wade Winalot’s role in the “Studio GO! Game Show” VBS is to emcee the opening and closing sessions, playing games with the kids and other VBS theme characters to introduce and reinforce the day’s lesson.
“Kids bonded instantly with the character and hit it off with him,” Read says. When the week of VBS field-testing at LifeSpring Christian Church ended, “there was a lot of hugging and crying.”
Read, who will receive a BA in music with a double major in piano and voice, began acting and improvising when he joined a vaudeville clowning company at age 13. “I was homeschooled, and at that point I was very much a social unbutterfly,” he says. “But I learned to get out there, go entertain, and be funny.” He also learned to juggle, walk on stilts, and walk a tightrope.
In addition to preparing for his senior recital this spring and serving as worship leader at New Hope Baptist Church in the Cincinnati area, Read is thinking about the future. He enthralled crowds this summer when he interned as stadium emcee for the Lakeland (Florida) Flying Tigers, a Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
“Elvis, Superman, all the superheroes, a leprechaun for Saint Patrick’s Day in July, Santa Claus, Kermit the Frog—every night I wore a different costume and used a different voice,” he says. The role opened up possible full-time employment after graduation as a game-day promotions manager for a major league organization. Read is also considering a full-time worship ministry role or graduate school to prepare to teach at the college level.
One thing is sure. The affable young man with the big voice knows how to win hearts. As Wade Winalot, he proves it once again.
Diane Stortz is a freelance editor and writer living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her Web site is www.izzysoffice.com.