by Robert Bell
Sad news this week in the entertainment world: Celebrity Attractions President Larry Payton passed away unexpectedly Monday at Tulsa's St. Francis Hospital of an unspecified illness. Celebrity Attractions, of course, is responsible for bringing in numerous Broadway shows to Little Rock and several other metro areas around the mid-south.
Verizon Arena posted on Facebook Tuesday: "The staff of the Verizon Arena is very sad today. We lost a good friend who presented many great shows in our market. We'll miss Larry's smiling face and positive attitude."
Payton was 64. The memorial service will be Saturday at First Baptist Church in Downtown Tulsa. More details are available in the press release after the jump.
Broadway has one less light burning today as Celebrity Attractions’ President Larry Payton unexpectedly passed away Monday, February 18th at approximately 9:50 p.m. at St. Francis Hospital due to an illness.
The memorial service to celebrate Larry’s life and legacy will be held Saturday, February 23rd at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Downtown Tulsa. There will be a viewing Friday, February 22nd at Floral Haven from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. and also Saturday at First Baptist Church using the Detroit Avenue Lobby entrance from 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Interment will be at Floral Haven immediately following the service.
Flowers can be sent to Floral Haven 6500 S 129th E. Ave. Broken Arrow, OK 74012. In lieu of flowers, a Scholarship Fund has been established at Southwest Baptist University 1600 University Avenue, Bolivar, MO 65613 in Larry's memory. All checks must be made out to Southwest Baptist University and a note on the check should be directed to the Larry Payton Scholarship Fund. These funds will be used to provide scholarships to members of the SBU Tennis Teams. Not only Larry, but also his father, uncle, and brother were graduates of SBU. Larry was a member of the SBU Tennis Team, worked briefly at SBU after his graduation and was serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for the University.
Larry Payton, his wife Kay Payton, his son Drew Payton and his brother Ed Payton have kept the lights of Broadway burning bright out west as the leadership of Celebrity Attractions. Larry and Kay started Celebrity Attractions in 1983 and are now celebrating 30 years of bringing the best of Broadway and more to you! The company has been presenting major theatrical, musical and family entertainment and handling the marketing and group sales for national touring events. Celebrity Attractions presents a Broadway Series in seven different regional markets- including Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Little Rock, AR; Springfield, MO; Amarillo, TX; Abilene, TX; and Lubbock, TX. He was actively involved in the Independent Presenters Network comprised of over 50 markets throughout the United States that present and produce shows.
In addition, Larry invested in several shows for Broadway and the road, including: ONCE, KINKY BOOTS, Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, JEKYLL & HYDE, WONDERLAND, 9 TO 5, GREASE, Monty Python’s SPAMALOT on Broadway, the road & in London, PETER PAN starring Cathy Rigby, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE COLOR PURPLE, MOVIN’ OUT, BOMBAY DREAMS and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE for which he won a Tony® Award.
Over the years, Larry’s dedication to presenting quality family entertainment and growing a business from the ground up were acknowledged by both The Broadway League as the recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Achievement in Presenter Management Award and by the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce as the recipient of the 1997 Small Business Person of the Year Award.
Larry was an active member of Parkview Baptist Church in Tulsa where he was a deacon and served on the church council. He also served on the Lifeway Board of Trustees and was secretary for the Retail Committee and served on the Financial Review Committee. Lifeway is the largest Christian Retailer in the United States. He was actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes since college and served on the Board of Directors for the State of Oklahoma. FCA is one of the few Christian Organizations which is still active in public schools. Larry served on the Board of Southwest Baptist University for which he was also an alumnus. A supporter of education, he was a former employee of the University of Tulsa as the student activities director.