Debbie Stanson



Published, EAC Communiqué, Summer 1998


Theatre People in Ann Arbor, Michigan, take note: Deb Stanson is coming to town! That makes it a good time to dust off those plans for a major project, give them to Deb, and… well… stand back and watch things happen!

That’s right. Elora’s theatrical whirlwind is heading Stateside for a whole new life. Our loss is their gain. They just don’t know it yet! After eleven years in Elora, it’s fair to say that Deb Stanson has had a giant impact on the local theatre scene. In fact, that’s quite an understatement. From the birth of Theatre on the Grand to the rebirth of Elora Community Theatre, and – not incidentally – the creating of Centre Wellington Children’s Theatre and the Wellington Youth Theatre, this industrious, visionary woman has been involved in making things happen on stage and behind the scenes in so many different ways it’s impossible to produce a complete list.

“Moving force” is the best way to describe her ten-year association with directing, producing, and even writing plays; encouraging and training the players; creating, leading, and linking organizations; and orchestrating building renovations – all of which has put Centre Wellington literally in the theatrical spotlight.

Fortunately, Deb is a “moving force” that knows how to attract other doers. So when she departs for her new Michigan home with her businessman husband, Mike, a cadre of strong, creative, and well-organized talent remains to carry on the good work… albeit with a very large gap to fill.

A trouper to the end, Deb was almost impossible to interview in late August for this piece, as she moved her college-aged children to their various campuses, prepared to move from her current house, AND began directing her final Elora Community Theatre production, the hilarious 1936 classic, “You Can’t Take It With You”, opening November 13th at Theatre on the Grand. Six performances later she’ll slip away, drive down the 401, cross the Detroit River, and begin a new life. But she WILL “take it with her”. She’ll take the benefits of all that hard work: tremendous friendships, created in what she describes as a decade that’s been “very fulfilling – creatively and socially”.

Not to mention the best wishes of a lot of grateful friends and admirers in theatre groups near and far.

by Bryan Hayter, Summer 1998

 “Moving force” is the best way to describe her ten-year association with directing, producing and even writing plays.

UPDATE – 2005

Debbie moved to Michigan in mid November 1998 only to find that her youngest child, who was attending college in the U.S., had decided he wanted to go to university in Canada. He needed to complete his OAC year to apply. What to do? They looked at Windsor, Ontario, about 30 minutes from the Michigan office, and by the beginning of December had purchased a home there.

While attending a concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Deb had a chance encounter with Simon Wynberg, past Music Director of the Guelph Spring Festival. Through him, she became involved with the Ann Arbor Chamber Music Festival in January of 1999. She was on the Board of Directors and assisted with fundraising and publicity, while living in Canada. “I was introduced to many incredible musicians and singers as well as working with a very dedicated Board.”

In March of 1999, Debbie Stanson was appointed Marketing Director for the Windsor Classic Chorale. The Chorale is a 30-member mixed, auditioned choir, which performs regularly with the Windsor Symphony and on CBC. She has met wonderful people through this involvement, including working with three very different and talented conductors. David Buley, the conductor from 2000 – 2002 commuted from Huntsville to Windsor every Monday and would stay with Debbie and her husband every week. There was many a late Monday evening!

After five years, this was Debbie’s final season with the choir: “I was elevated to Business Manager in 2000! It has been a great five years, making life long friends, listening to incredible music and creating an Outreach Program for the Choir”. During these last years she has also volunteered at the Capital Theatre and sat on three fundraising committees for the Windsor Essex Hospice.

This fall Debbie Stanson plans on taking the much-needed leap back into theatre by working with a local music studio, directing a musical for teens. It will be a huge undertaking but one she looks forward to.

The Arts in Windsor can be very much fragmented, unlike Elora. That is life in the big city. “Windsor is now my home, but Elora will always have my heart.”