IT has been a long time since Noel Hodda trod the boards on the Border, but the actor/writer still calls Albury home.
And he is home this week playing the vile Arnold Denny in HotHouse Theatre’s first offering for 2016 – The Dapto Chaser.
Hodda enjoys the role as much as he enjoys getting home.
"I haven't lived here for a long time but I get back two or three times a year,” he says.
"My mother's still here, my sister's still here and two of my brothers are here, so I get get back fairly regularly.”
He made his stage debut at the Albury Entertainment Centre playing a tree.
Over the years he made several appearances on that stage.
"It's always good to be back,” the NIDA graduate says.
“We did Embers at the Civic, what is now called the Entertainment Centre but it will always be the Civic for me.
"The Civic Theatre is where I made my stage debut, I was a tree in the Teddy Bears Picnic in primary school.
"I did the eisteddfods, school concerts, all those things ... I sang in the school choirs.”
Over more than 30 years Hodda has appeared on stage and screen, with television and film appearances including Rake, Janet King, The Bet, Out Of The Blue, Home and Away, All Saints and Farscape.
Hodda grew up in North Albury and went to school at Aquinas College, now Xavier High School, where he thrived and developed his drama, writing, singing and debating skills.
His introduction to racing was less conventional.
"My uncle used to have greyhounds on Union Road,” he recalls, 'It was huge.
“Growing up on Currawong Street on a summer's night you would hear them at the coursing track.
"And you'd certainly hear the trots, which were just down the street in the showgrounds.
"It was very prevalent, very real."
He says The Dapto Chaser writer Mary Rachel Brown captures the characters of the track through her script.
"The vernacular, the Australianess of it,” Hodda says.
“Mary's got a great ear in just getting to the heart of what it is to be a person, or what it is to be an Australian."
"She's really got the ear for it.. It's beautiful."
The Dapto Chaser is a warts-and-all Australian comedy that gets its hands dirty with the adrenaline and sweat of the dog racing sub-culture.