It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our Founding Artistic Director, Olga “Bo” Thorp. Bo was a force of nature with an indomitable spirit. She lived a full life for 89 years, 50 of which were dedicated to making amazing theatre in North Carolina at her home, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
She always said there was a ‘special something’ in the air here in Fayetteville. She believed in the power of arts to transform lives, and her own life is a testament to how theatre inspires joy, nurtures understanding and compassion, and is the heartbeat of a community. She loved to make people laugh, never met a joke she couldn’t land, and slyly teased everyone from board members to small children. Her tenacity made her a tremendous leader. To run a theatre for 50 years is remarkable, but to have been a female Artistic Director in 1963—11 years before women were allowed to apply for credit cards—is the stuff of legends. She is one of the longest tenured female Artistic Directors in the United States of America. When you think of how many shows she produced (hundreds), how many artists she hired (thousands), how many friendships were formed, and how many careers began here (countless), her impact is beyond measure. She created a space where people felt inspired, where children found their voice, and where we all come together in a world that so often seeks to pull people apart.
The recently renovated theatre auditorium was named for Bo and her husband Herbert to coincide with her 89th birthday this past April as a surprise from her children, Holden and his wife Patti Thorp and Clay Thorp and his wife Laura Francis-Thorp. She was surrounded by her loving family, whom she adored, and visited in her final days by many dear friends. We will share the details of her services here, and a celebration of life for the theatre community will be announced at a later date.
In the theatre, there is a tradition of dimming the marquee lights to honor the passing of distinguished thespians, but Bo sparkled and lit up any room in which she was. So, we are going to honor her by turning our Marquee lights on for the day. It’s joyful and bright and a little different; she would love it. The theatre will be open this Sunday 10/16 from 6-9pm for any who want to gather to share stories and honor the life of this incredible woman in the space she created.
Over the last few years, Bo would often visit the theatre and when she left, we would say – “We love you, Bo”- and she would say, “I love you more.” Love Big. Laugh Loud. Believe in your dreams, and build a place where you feel honored to live…that’s what Bo did. “Y’all keep coming back!”
Olga B. Thorp | 4/12/1933 – 10/14/2022