The Facebook community is reeling at the news that Daron Hawkins, the long-time head of the Riverview High School drama department, has died.
“Daron passed away today at 3 p.m. after a long illness,” notes a status update written by Jas Warren, on behalf of Hawkins’ parents, and posted Sept. 25. “Know that he loved you all. And I believe, in my heart, that he knew how much we all loved him, in return.”
Reaction has been building throughout the night, and likely into the days ahead, as plans are formulated for what Warren said would be ways “to celebrate his unbelievable contributions to all our lives.”
“Thank you for coming together in this moment,” the post continues. “[Daron] would be proud of the true sense of family that he created in each of you.”
According to Hawkins’ Facebook page, he lived in Riverview, taught in the Hillsborough County School District since 1998 and studied theatre education at New York University. His past education notes as well the University of South Florida. He was a graduate of East Bay High School.
Hawkins was a member of the charter staff of Riverview High
and founded Riverview Little Theatre, a community service project of the Riverview High School Theatre Department. He served on the Florida State Thespian Board of Directors.
Liz Stewart, the chorus director at Riverview High, said in an interview Sept. 25 that members of the school's staff were going to wear theater T-shirts to school today, Sept. 26, promoting Hawkins' shows over the years.
According to Stewart, Hawkins produced and directed more than 80 shows over the years, 'having staged three to five each year, with either the school's theater department or Riverview Little Theatre." As a rule, for each show a promotional T-shirt is produced.
"We're wearing our theater T-shirts as a show of respect for Daron's immeasurable talents and the role he played at our school," Stewart said.
His directorial credits, for both the school and Riverview Little Theatre, include Chicago, Cabaret, Evita, Metamorphosis, The Sound of Music, Gypsy, Into the Woods and so many more.
"The one thing he did that really blew my mind is when, for Metamorphosis, he built a swimming pool in the auditorium and sat the audience on the stage. I said to myself, 'How did he do that?' He built a rain curtain and had trap doors in the pool from which the actors emerged. To us, in the audience, they seemed to just disappear."
As Stewart put it: "He always had a way of making magic happen."
In 2010, Hawkins served as producer and technical director for The Last Five Years, which was presented by Riverview Little Theatre and Take 2
The Stage, a dramatic production company founded by Janet Frenkel, the show's director.
Hawkins included this note about himself in the show's program:
- "Daron is a graduate of East Bay High School under the direction of drama teacher Lynnette Lota. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida (1997) and his Master in Arts degree from New York University (2006). At Riverview High School he has directed more than 75 mainstage and one-act productions over the past 12 years, with numerous awards. He founded the Riverview Little Theatre in 2001 and is thrilled to see it going strong in 2010! Thanks to all of those individuals who love theatre and make the long hours worthwhile."
- Riverview Little Theatre And Take 2 The Stage Produce The Last Five Years / MyPaperNow.com