Spotlight interview: ‘Sister Act’s’ Daniel Hernandez is happy to be back in Fresno and on the stage

Do actors feel empathy for their characters? Daniel Hernandez sure does. His character in the new Good Company Players production of “Sister Act” (which continues through Sept. 11 at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater) is an amiable guy who is stuck with the unfortunate nickname “Sweaty Eddie.” Here’s the fascinating thing: When I mention that nickname to him, a cloud of real irritation sails across Hernandez’s otherwise open, sunny face. He’s ready to defend Eddie. From this, I think we can deduce two things: a) Hernandez is a good, conscientious actor who really identifies with his character; and b) he has a really big nice streak.

Pictured above: Daniel Hernandez and Camille Gaston star in ‘Sister Act’ for Good Company Players. Photo: Edgar Olivera

The Fresno acting scene lucked out when Hernandez, who in 2014 had gone off to the wilds of Southern California to finish college, get married, land a real job and do the whole growing-up thing, decided to return to Fresno to buy a house and settle down. It also gave him a chance to get back into acting. He delighted audiences as the randy Boy Scout in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” earlier this summer, and now he’s got the love-interest role (and a big number) in “Sister Act.” I talked with him by phone and email for this update.

Q: You really don’t like the nickname “Sweaty Eddie,” which is what people call your character, Lt. Eddie Souther, in “Sister Act.” I can’t quite tell if this is you, Daniel, annoyed that people are calling you sweaty, or if it’s Daniel as Eddie sticking up for his character because he doesn’t deserve that moniker. First question: What do you have against sweat? Second question: Did you have a nickname growing up?

A: Nothing against sweat — I just have to come to the defense of Eddie! He is a good guy with an unfortunate nickname that has haunted him since high school or perhaps even earlier. I can totally imagine the scenario: Eddie forgot to put on antiperspirant before gym class and sweated through his shirt, and the rest is history. Actually, I’m not a very sweaty person in general so I don’t connect to the character in that manner, but I’ve had my fair share of nicknames, both bad and good. I remember being teased with the name Danielle in elementary school – such a lazy insult. My family calls me Bubba, and my father called me Egghead — I’m not sure why. Danny is most common amongst friends.

Q: Eddie actually gets beefed up as a character in the transition of “Sister Act” from movie to stage musical. What kind of guy is he? Tell us about his big song, “I Could Be That Guy.”


A: Eddie is the guy at the party who doesn’t talk much and nobody really remembers his name, but is the first to run to the store to get more ice for the party. If he took the “5 Love Languages” quiz I’d bet his primary love language is “Acts of Service.” He’s a rule follower and a bit of a doormat. “I Could Be That Guy” is Eddie’s fantasy of what he could be, at least if he’d let himself try. Danza, Travolta, Gibbs! Eddie just can’t let go, loosen up and get some rhythm, but maybe one day. I imagine many people will connect to the song in some way. What could I be if I could quiet the racket in my head and just take charge? This song goes on quite the journey and is one of my favorites in the show. It’s full of surprises!

Q: Speaking of movie-to-musical transitions, “Sister Act” is one of those shows that actually seem better rounded and more meaningful in the stage version. Thoughts?

A: I completely agree! First off, this plot lends itself to being a musical. The movie, in so many ways, is already a musical. After all it is about a lounge singer who teaches nuns how to sing. The script for the musical is hilarious and charming, and the music is oh so fun!

Q: This is a revival for Good Company Players, but you weren’t in the first production. I can tell you someone who was: Camille Gaston, who plays the leading role of Dolores. She really did bring a special sparkle to the role the first time around. What is it like to work with her? Do you think she changed her approach at all to Dolores this time around? What do you think she brings to her character?

A: Camille is an all-star player, so it’s a total joy to work with her. She always comes in prepared and is an incredibly hard worker. We know Camille as a stellar vocalist and strong dramatic actor, but her comedy chops really shine in this roll. I’d have to say Deloris is even more fine tuned and hilarious. Camille brings a ton of joy to this character and production. You don’t want to miss her in this show!

Q: Singing nuns can be funny. (So can flying ones.) Why do you think they’re such a comic staple?

A: I think the conventional stereotype of a nun is a stern and grumpy old lady, so when we see a nun break loose, sing a song and dance it’s funny! Our nuns in Sister Act really bust some good moves.

Q: You pay attention to composers because you studied composing in college. Who is the composer for “Sister Act”? Do you have a favorite Broadway composer overall?

A: Alan Menken wrote the musical “Sister Act.” Fun fact, Marc Shaiman, who is the composer for the musical Hairspray, wrote the film score for the movie Sister Act. I found it so interesting that these highly regarded film and theater writers both had a hand in this story. I am a fan of many Broadway composers, but I’d have to say the composing team Ahrens and Flaherty wrote two of my favorite musicals: Once on This Island and Ragtime. I love those scores!

Q: You were in a ton of shows before you left Fresno in 2014 to finish college. What was your favorite role before you left?

A: I have to pick just one? I’d say my favorite role so far was Robert Martin in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Roger Rocka’s. That show was a dream! Closely followed by Fredrick Frankenstein in “Young Frankenstein” and Murphy Bean in “Yo! Vikings” at CMT.

Edgar Olivera

Camille Gaston, center, stars as Dolores in ‘Sister Act’ for Good Company Players at Roger Rocka’s.

Q: You and your husband, Cody, returned to Fresno in 2021 and bought a house. You both have jobs that allow you to work remotely. I’ve been thinking about how technological change — good old Zoom — has been a boon for places like Fresno, which can more easily draw back more of its homegrown talent that has left. How is the working-from-home thing working out for you?

A: I love working from home — I know it’s not for everyone, but I can’t get enough of it. I love to cook, so being able to make extravagant meals during my lunch break in my OWN kitchen cannot be beaten. Also, no commute. While in L.A. our commute was 2 hours each day, so to have that time back is incredible. Actually, telework is the reason why Cody and I were able to move back to Fresno and buy a home. Our two cats are happy to have us home all day, too!

Q: A lot of people see theater only in Fresno, and because of that don’t realize the quality of Good Company productions compared to other cities. What’s your take on community theater in the L.A. area versus Fresno?

A: Good Company Players has set such a high bar for what is expected in community theater. High quality theater inspires quality performances and that’s what we’re seeing in the Central Valley. I saw a number of community theater shows while in L.A. and I always left dissatisfied. This is not to say there was a lack of talent because we know L.A. is full of talent. Because GCP has been around for coming up 50 years I think performers, production staff and audiences have acquired a certain appreciation and demand for what is on stage. Perhaps L.A. is just too large for this, or perhaps I have been spoiled! GCP, Stageworks, Selma Arts, Shine, CMT…the list goes on of high quality theater in the Valley.

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Q: OK, time for a couple of random questions. If you could have dinner with any Broadway star, who would it be?

A: Patti LuPone! I’ve seen her on talk shows and she doesn’t hold back. On national TV she once said “Madonna is a movie killer” in reference to Madonna’s portrayal of Evita. If that’s what she says on TV, I could only imagine what she’d say at a private dinner!

Q: Are you a tiramisu man or a lemon-meringue pie guy?

A: Tiramisu all the way. Meringue does nothing for me. It so badly wants to be whipped cream.

Q: When you moved back to Fresno, was there a business/attraction that you were disappointed had closed?

A: The Chicken Pie Shop. That one hurt. Chicken fried steak was my go to. Sequoia Brewery has a pretty good one, so I’ll stick with that.

Q: If I started a rumor that you’d prefer to be known as “Sweaty Danny,” would you consider legal action?

A: Not at all, but I think “Damp Danny” rolls off the tongue a little better.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: “Sister Act” the musical is a strong adaptation of the film, so if you love the film then you will love this show. I’m in constant awe of this cast and their desire to work hard. We’re in a tough time right now and it’s important to support your local business, so if you can make it to the show please join us! The show is fun, the dinner is yummy and there is air conditioning!!


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Great interview, as always! Makes me more anxious than ever to see the show. Thank you, Donald


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