Family, friends and theater colleagues are grieving the loss of Landon Hall, 23, who died unexpectedly last weekend.
A 2014 Cloquet High School alumnus, Hall suddenly collapsed at his home near Scanlon on Saturday, June 8.
Hall’s family and friends described him as a person with boundless energy who was always willing to help and put everything into any project or task he chose, whether in the garden, acting or directing a local production of a play, or helping friends and neighbors solve their technology problems.
“He was infectious,” his mother, Barbara Love, said. “He was like an octopus — his arms went around everybody.”
His partner, Kevin Polson, said Hall’s greeting could light up a room.
“It could break through anything,” Polson said. “You could be blaring music and he would come in and say ‘Hi!’ and it would break right through the sound."
Hall graduated from Cloquet High School in 2014 and was a big part of the school’s theater program as an actor and assistant director. He continued his passion for the stage at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, where he minored in theater and double-majored in computer science and photography. He was also a member of the cast or crew in several productions at CSS and at County Seat Theater in Cloquet.
“I don’t think this has quite hit home yet,” County Seat Theater general manager Joel Soukkala said. “What a tragic loss. I directed Landon in many youth productions at County Seat Theater. Landon recently spoke to me about having an interest in directing a future production for us and I was so excited to get to know him more on an adult level. He was a talented, giving and all-around entertaining individual.”
He also made his directing debut last fall in the Cloquet High School production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Kevin Hamre directed a number of productions during Hall’s time at the school, including his favorite play, “Dorothy in Wonderland.” He said Hall was a “special guy” who was always willing to help.
“He was very humble and would give the shirt off his back to anyone, no matter who they were,” Hamre said. “He would always be there for anyone at a moment’s notice. ‘I’ll be there’ was always his quote — he said it all the time.”
Hall was also willing to go the extra mile to make shows special, such as the 2014 production of “Dorothy in Wonderland,” a play that combines the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. In his role as the Tin Man, Hall decided to make his costume as realistic as possible.
“About a week before the performance, he created his own Tin Man costume that was identical, but with even more than from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Hamre said. “He was painted from head to toe and the paint was so thick that he could hardly speak. That’s how dedicated he was to authenticity.”
Hamre said he was stumped when another section of the play required Dorothy to fly around the Cloquet auditorium — but Hall wasn’t.
“I’ll handle that,” Hamre recalled Hall saying.
Hall worked out a harness and pulley system that — after some parents signed permission slips — had Dorothy soaring above the auditorium.
“He got cables and batons and we had her flying all over that stage,” Hamre said. “It was very authentic and that was all Landon.”
Hall loved performing in the auditorium so much, his mother plans to have his memorial service there. Gail Hamre will sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Cloquet theater students and staff joining in on the chorus.
A “Tribute to Landon’s Legacy” is scheduled for Friday, June 14, at 4 p.m. in the Cloquet High School Auditorium, with visitation starting at 2:30 p.m.