TULSA — Larry Payton, president of the Tulsa-based Celebrity Attractions, died Monday of complications from an undisclosed illness at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. He was 64.
Payton and his wife, Kay, founded Celebrity Attractions in 1983. The organization presented major theatrical and musical events, most notably touring productions of Broadway musicals.
During its early years, Celebrity Attractions brought occasional productions to Tulsa.
The modest operation would eventually grow to include Broadway series in six additional markets: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Ark., Springfield, Mo; and Amarillo, Abilene and Lubbock, Texas.
“For 30 years, Larry's dream of bringing laughter, smiling faces and stirring hearts through live entertainment has touched the lives of thousands of Tulsans, as well as theatergoers in Oklahoma City and five other cities across a four-state area,” said Payton's brother and Celebrity Attractions' chief operations officer, Ed Payton.
“The lights of Broadway are dimmer today because of the loss of Larry Payton but beyond his business contribution, Larry's legacy will continue to impact through the work he did in his church and community,” Payton said.
In addition to his work as a presenter, Payton became an investor in Broadway and touring productions, including the Tony Award-winning musicals “Once,” “Spamalot,” “The Color Purple,” “Movin' Out,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Payton's frequent trips to New York put him in contact with many of Broadway's elite. He developed a long-standing friendship with composer Frank Wildhorn and invested in Wildhorn's musicals “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Wonderland.”