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Jul. 22nd, 2008

Cover of Tuesday's Women









A Belle of a role: Dana Daunis trades in her Miss Connecticut crown for another in 'Beauty and the Beast' play 

BY TRACY SIMMONS REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN 

What little girl doesn't want to become a beautiful princess one day?

Dana Daunis, of Watertown, knows the role well. She's been Miss Greater Watertown, Miss Fairfield County and most recently, Miss Connecticut. Now, at age 22, Daunis is playing the part of her dreams — Belle from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," at the Thomaston Opera House, through Aug. 10.

"Belle has been my dream role," she said. "It has been all my life."

"Beauty and the Beast" is the Disney musical about a bookish young girl who lives with her father in a small French town. When her inventor father doesn't return from a trip, Belle searches for him and discovers he's being held captive by a beast.

Opening night for the production was July 19.

"Even when I was younger my role model was Belle," Daunis said. "People used to tell me I looked like her."

Tracy Forbes, executive director for the Miss Fairfield County and Miss New Haven County scholarship programs, said she wasn't surprised when she heard Daunis would be playing a princess on stage.

"It's the perfect role for Dana. I have a 4-year-old daughter that loves Dana and she always used to say Dana reminded her of Belle or of a Disney princess," Forbes said. "She's a phenomenal entertainer. Her vocal skills coupled with her personality, I'm sure is what got her the role. She's someone we'll see on Broadway someday."

Belle is the perfect princess, Daunis said, because she's beautiful, a little stubborn and comes from a small town. She said as Miss Connecticut she was a role model to young girls.

"As Belle, I get to carry on that role model image that a lot of little girls look up to," she said.

Daunis, who has been acting since the seventh-grade, is no stranger to community theater. She has played Maria from "West Side Story," Fiona in "Brigadoon" and Sandy in "Grease." It's been six years since her last theater role, and she said being on the stage again has been challenging. She said that as Miss Connecticut she spent the past year "playing Dana," as a representative of the Miss America Organization. Now, she said, she's playing a character and has been working on memorizing lines and song lyrics.

"When I was playing the part of myself if I messed up I could laugh about it," she said, noting there's no room for error in live theater.

She thought she was through with acting, since she fell out of the trade after high school, but couldn't resist "Beauty and the Beast."

Daunis said the play, directed by Rick Doyle, is especially important to her because it's at the Thomaston Opera House.

When Daunis was 18 years old she opened Center Stage Studio, which was a performing arts academy for children. "For me to come back it had to be this show and this theater," she said. "Now that I'm on stage again I realize how much I miss it."

Forbes said that when she first met Daunis, she was impressed with her maturity.

"She owned her own business already and she was in school and competing and doing extremely well," she said. "She gives 150 percent in everything she does. She has a very good heart and is very dedicated to everything she does from owning her own business, to life, to friends, to family, to pageants."

Daunis, who no longer owns the studio because her time was devoted to Miss Connecticut, encourages guests to come see the Thomaston production because of the set and the actors.

"It's magical," she said. "The stage has literally been transformed and the cast are very dedicated people."

Daunis recently completed her bachelor's degree in psychology from Central Connecticut State University and is a certified children's domestic and sexual abuse counselor. As Miss Connecticut, Daunis spent much of her time raising money and awareness for abused children. She said it's been an interest to her every since she volunteered at Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury as a teenager.

"I've always had the ability to connect with children," she said.

She noted that she can't sit still and is always trying new things and isn't sure what she'll occupy her time with after "Beauty and the Beast" ends. She currently works at Heritage Hotel in Southbury where she said she has found a new passion in the hospitality business.

INFOBOX

"Beauty and the Beast"

July 25, 26 and Aug. 1, 2 at 8 p.m.

July 27 and Aug. 3, 9, 10 at 2 p.m.

$20 for adults, $17 for students and seniors

(860) 283-6250



 

Jul. 21st, 2008

JUST DANA

Life After Pageants:

The past few weeks have been just as busy as it was when I was Miss Connecticut. The days after giving my crown I was called into work to help with a wedding. I am working as a the travel and sales coordinator for the Heritage Hotel in Southbury. From there, I had a lot of rehearsals to catch up on, since I missed a week during Miss Connecticut. The following weekend, I made my first appearance as Belle.

This past weekend was our opening performance of Beauty and the Beast. Before the show we had "Tea with Belle." I got to dance and sing with a ton of little girls all dressed up like ME! It was absolutely adorable.

These next few weeks will be the easiest I have had in quite some time. Other than my mid-week rehearsal on Wednesday, work during the day, and shows on the weekend...I have my time to myself.

Next on my list of things to do: Skydiving!!!!!!!


Jun. 20th, 2008

One Week Left as Miss Connecticut

Well, tonight is the gala and tomorrow marks the ONE WEEK I have remaining as Miss Connecticut. I can't believe how quickly a year goes by. So many title holders have said it, but this year went by in a blink of an eye. I am proud to say I already have my "life after pageants" all planned out. I am playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast at the Thomaston Opera House!

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
July 19, 25, 26, August 1, 2 & 8, 2008 at 8:00pm
July 20, 27, August 3, 9* & 10 at 2:00pm (*Special Saturday Matinee Performance)
FOUR WEEK ENGAGEMENT!!!



I was also recently promoted at work to Sales and Travel Coordinator at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury, CT.




There is no doubt I am excited for the future, but it is so hard to believe it is almost over. I want to make sure I include some last minute photos I have neglected to post for so long. I hope you enjoy.

















Apr. 26th, 2008

Capitol Building- The Children's Trust Fund

What do Parents Need to Know About Child Sexual Offenders?

Dana Daunis, Miss Connecticut 2007, to offer comments on April 22 at the Capitol
during the Children's Trust Fund's "The Stranger You Know…" Information Session

(Hartford, Conn., April 18, 2007) -- Because children are cognitively, emotionally and physically helpless in protecting themselves from sexual abuse offenders, the Children's Trust Fund has developed an educational seminar, free to any community group, to help adults make sure their children are not exposed to the circumstances and environments that pedophiles need to molest them.

Child abuse prevention advocate Dana Daunis, the reigning Miss Connecticut, will join the Children's Trust Fund to host a morning information session on April 22 in the Capitol's Old Judiciary room about "The Stranger You Know…", an important grassroots educational program that is helping adults better understand how sexual predators think and operate.

The Children's Trust Fund (CTF) and its partners will provide an update to legislators and the public about the initiative, which helps to prevent child sexual abuse through seminars available at no cost to parent groups, civic and community organizations statewide.

As Miss Connecticut, Daunis is dedicated to breaking the cycle of child abuse through prevention and recovery efforts. Children who suffer abuse and neglect are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity. Children who are abused are also more likely to require special education in school and have a greater propensity to become juvenile delinquents or adult criminals. Dana believes that by working to prevent abuse and helping who have suffered abuse, we are not only curbing future mistreatment, but are also working toward breaking a chain of events stemming from the epidemic of child abuse that affects our entire society.

In addition to comments from Daunis, the April 22 presentation will feature Eleanor Lyon, Ph.D., principal investigator in the University of Connecticut's evaluation of The Stranger You Know... pilot program at ChildPlan, Inc. of East Hartford. Dr. Lyon will present her research findings and discuss how the program has reached beyond its immediate participants, raising awareness and changing preventative behaviors throughout the town.

Program facilitator Commander Robert Kenary (Ret.) will share highlights of The Stranger You Know... child sexual abuse prevention seminar that the Children's Trust Fund offers to communities statewide. He will be joined by Cephus Nolan, MSW, an experienced social worker who helped Childplan Inc. implement the child sexual abuse prevention community education program in East Hartford.

What: Information session about the Children's Trust Fund's The Stranger You Know…. child sexual abuse prevention program

Who: Miss Connecticut 2007 Dana Daunis; Children's Trust Fund Executive Director Karen Foley-Schain; "Stranger You Know" program facilitator Robert Kenary; University of Connecticut researcher Eleanor Lyon, Ph.D.; Cephus Nolan, MSW.

Date: Tuesday, April 22

Time: 8:45 to 11 a.m.

Location: State Capitol, Old Judiciary Room, 210 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106

The Children's Trust Fund is an independent state agency created by the Connecticut General Assembly to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to establish resources in communities throughout the state that support and strengthen families. Governed by a 16-member interdisciplinary board, the Trust Fund is sustained by federal and state dollars and private funding. Since 1997, the Trust Fund has developed or funded more than 180 family service programs and initiatives statewide. For more information, visit Take5Parenting.com or www.ct.gov/ctf .

In addition to his program overview on April 22, Commander Kenary will offer The Stranger You Know… community presentations at the following locations from April 10 to June 31. For details, to schedule your attendance at one of these sessions, or set up a The Stranger You Know…. educational program in your community, contact Laura Beebe at at 860.418.8763 or laura.beebe@ct.gov.









Sexual Assault Prevention- Key Note Speaker













Right Decisions Right Now- Norwich, CT













Beauty and the Beast

It was my great pleasure to attend Griswold High School's production of Beauty and the Beast. My lovely vocal instructor, Patty May, was kind enough to introduce me to the cast. I also had the pleasure of sitting with Lucy, one of our contestants for Miss CT's Outstanding Teen. I will have more photos soon, including time with the cast backstage.


Apr. 9th, 2008

Home Show- Enfield, CT

















"Just the Girls Program" - Waterbury, CT

The Just the Girls Program was quite an experience. I met such a lovely group of young ladies who has so many wonderful questions and comments.




Mar. 18th, 2008

Coming up soon...

Here is an update on some of my upcoming events:

Schools
Waterbury Public Schools
Newtown Public Schools
Kelley Middle School in Norwich
Teacher's Memorial Middle School in Norwich
Bridgeport Schools

Other
Just the Girls Program- Waterbury, CT
Special Olympics- Aqua Turf Southington, CT
North Central Connecticut Home Show
Mall Madness with Enfield Girl Scouts
Vietnam Veteran Memorial Picnic
Watertown Women's Fellowship
Safe Haven- Key Note Speaker- Waterbury, CT
State Capitol for "The Stranger You Know"- Child Abuse Prevention Month
Bikers Against Child Abuse

More to come soon! (hopefully with photos included)

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