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COVID-19 Update May 12th

Our production of “Save The Theatre” has been postponed until September
24th, conditional upon the COVID-19 social distance guidelines being
lifted to allow for an audience of 100 people to attend and watch the
performance.
Thank you for your patience.
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Larry Dawson – A Tribute

 May 19, 1945 – June 6, 2020

Throughout his life, Larry Dawson worked tirelessly to promote Simcoe and the Norfolk region. He showed his love for his community by involvements in a number of community agencies, as an active member, and in a variety of leadership capacities (Board Member / Secretary / Treasurer, President / Past President, etc.) for many agencies and organizations in this area.

Larry also served a term as Municipal Councilor for the Township of Norfolk, and was the County appointee to both the Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Board, and to Norfolk’s Committee of Adjustment.

Larry’s lifetime of commitment and service to his community was recognized and honoured as follows:

·          Solicitor General Award for Crime Prevention

·         Co-winner of the International Crime Stopper of the Year

·         Outstanding Community Involvement (a Federal Government award)

·         Agricultural Service Award –  for Meritorious Service to Agriculture (Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies

·         Paul Harris Fellow

·         Ontario Volunteer Service Award for 30 years of involvement in / commitment to the Simcoe Little Theatre

·         SLT’s Most Amazing Person Award (received 2 nominations in 2018)

·         Simcoe & District Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award, 2018

His contributions to the theatre community were many and varied, spanning many years. In particular he was involved with Simcoe Little Theatre (SLT) for over 30 years filling many roles, e.g. president / past-president / fundraising chair to name a few! SLT honoured his commitment and service by making him a Life Member in 2016. He always provided leadership and support, and he worked tirelessly in support of SLT’s goal to provide opportunities for people in Norfolk County to participate in and enjoy top notch quality live theatre.

During his 30 years with the theatre, he was very involved in all aspects of production, (actor, producer, stage manager, director, etc.) In total he produced two, stage-managed four and performed in twenty-four plays with comedies and musicals as his specialty. But he also demonstrated his versatility and creative range when he took on a dramatic role in SLT’s production of Leanne Brodie’s Book of Esther.

His forte was his support of / participation in the creative side of community theatre. He served as SLT’s Technical Director which entailed being fully knowledgeable about every aspect of stage craft and production and used this knowledge to provide orientation, instruction and support (including crisis management!) to the Production Directors, casts and crews of all productions presented by SLT – a mammoth job! Even after he retired from this role, he continued to support new Directors in whatever way he could, e.g. Producer, Stage Manager, Advisor, etc.

According to Louise Banfield, also a Life Member and currently SLT’s Box Office Manager, Larry was:

“someone you could always depend on – a true leader! He helped out many new directors and gave many an actor their first roles …. He provided many of the props and costumes he used, especially ones where he appeared in a female role.  

 Louise goes on to say:

“Larry’s production of Cinderella possibly holds the record for the largest house in SLT’s 75 years of existenceThe numbers always went up when Larry was involved because he knew so many people and they always came out for his shows. His laugh was infectious. When he was in the audience, he could always be heard and he would lead the audience in laughter.”

In terms of cast, crew and audiences, the volunteer contributions of his skills and expertise reached hundreds of people in Norfolk County. In particular he enjoyed the opportunity to watch many young people go forward and further their education in theatre arts.

While Manager for the Simcoe Town Centre in Simcoe ON, Larry created the TC Bear mascot that soon became a large part of the community and an integral part of a public school program about the consequences of shoplifting. 

Larry expressed gratitude that his acting talents enabled him to create TC Bear and provided him with rewarding opportunities to engage with over 25,000 young students and more than 100 teachers while impressing such an important message on them.

During 2017, Larry performed at many venues and occasions representing Norfolk County as Charlton – our Canada 150 mascot / representative (see attached).

 

The following comments are from two individuals who worked with Larry Dawson for many years and they demonstrate the impact Larry has had on his community, and on community theatre in particular.

 

Heidi Bowman (SLT Board member in many capacities, including President and Past-President) worked with Larry Dawson for many years and speaks to his impact on his community, and on community theatre in particular.

 “I got to know Larry Dawson when I first joined Simcoe Little Theatre in 1994 as a volunteer myself (make-up and ushering). Larry directed a play that season, Alone Together, and a musical, Cinderella, in the following season. These were just two of the 17 productions that he directed for Simcoe Little Theatre over the years. I had the privilege of being part of the cast of the musical Oklahoma which he directed in 2005.  ….  The arts enrich the life of a community and Larry was an integral part of the performing arts in Norfolk County. His roles and performances for the Simcoe Lions Club annual show were legendary; he directed shows as fund raisers for the Langton Figure Skating Club, his TC Bear persona was especially captivating for children and his involvement with Simcoe Little Theatre was extensive.

Larry had the ability to reach out to people and encouraged them to participate and to do their best. He did this in his work as Manager, Simcoe Town Centre, and Executive Director, Simcoe Downtown BIA, with his staff (included my son), and the public. He demonstrated this in his activities around the community, Norfolk County Fair, Simcoe Community Policing, and Old Windham United Church. He drew out the inner muse of the actors on stage, to deliver the best performance to an appreciative audience.

Larry had a “Let’s go for it, let’s do it” attitude that was an inspiration to many. Because of Larry Dawson, Norfolk County was and is a richer community.”

Douglas Grant, (SLT Vice- President until 2017 and now a Life Member of SLT) also worked with Larry for many years

“Since the late 1970’s, Larry served as Director on fourteen registered not-for-profit organizations, was Past President for six of these organizations, and Secretary/Treasurer for four of these causes.

Larry’s interests and volunteering encompassed a variety of worthy organizations: from The United Way of Haldimand Norfolk, Simcoe Community Policing Association, Norfolk General Hospital, Canadian Mental Health Association, Council  of Old Windham United Church, Norfolk Agricultural Society (Norfolk County Fair), Simcoe Lions Club,  and  – for the past 30 years – Simcoe Little Theatre.

At Simcoe Little Theatre, Larry s more than proved his expertise and versatility. As actor, producer, director, Executive President, Technical Director, he was a “common-sense go-to person” who positively influenced every aspect of this long-time volunteer driven and run organization.

In his professional life, Larry was a fervent champion of retailers, both in malls and down-town outlets. The Norfolk retail business community has much to thank Larry for.

Larry’s passionate and sincere involvement as a volunteer touched the lives of literally thousands of people of all ages from so many walks of life. His continued interest in youth insured our communities are age-inclusive and open to the input and diligence of young people.

My words merely scratch the surface of Larry’s hard work, initiatives and successes as a volunteer; he loved people and that is why his life made so much difference.”

 

Larry Dawson was one of a kind and will be greatly missed!