Remembering Dennis Sharp

Remembering Centaur’s Longtime Supporter and Friend, Dennis Sharp

As we approach the anniversary of the passing of Mr. Dennis Sharp, Centaur Theatre commemorates one of its most unwavering and devoted supporters. On July 31, 2022, Dennis left behind a deeply felt, irreplaceable void in our community. He was a passionate patron of the arts and a true friend to Centaur Theatre. 

Dennis’s love for the theatre was evident in his enthusiastic attendance at productions, his active participation in events, and his generous donations to the theatre. As a proud member of Centaur’s Imagination Society, he emphasized the significance of supporting the arts and the role that theatre plays in our community for generations to come. Dennis and his wife of 44 years, Hélène Côté Sharp, believed in bringing people together through art, and they felt that Centaur embodied this mission for them. This love is shared by their two daughters, Catherine and Geneviève.

Dennis’s interest in theatre first came from his cousin, theatre actor Neil McCallum. Neil’s sudden and tragic death in 1976, just as he was preparing to come to Canada from London, inspired Dennis to continue his legacy and to pursue his passion for theatre. Hélène and Dennis’s appreciation for the arts transcended language barriers, and they enjoyed going to the ballet and seeing English translations of French-Canadian plays at Centaur, particularly those of Michel Tremblay. In fact, Hélène would make a point of seeing these performances in French when they were produced at other theatres in subsequent years. They believed in the importance of uniting people across the language divide, in alignment with Centaur’s effort. English and French culture are often separated in Montreal, but as Hélène observed, Centaur Theatre regularly serves as a bridge between these communities. 

A special bond united the bilingual couple. They met at an antique dealer two years after Dennis moved to Montreal from Toronto, where he first worked as stockbroker and analyst. Dennis and Hélène first visited Centaur Theatre in 1985, where they saw David Fennario’s renowned bilingual play Balconville, now one of Centaur’s signature productions. The play left a deep and lasting impression on them, and they continued to be regular attendees of Centaur performances. Then, when Dennis suffered a detached retina and had to visit an emergency clinic, he met Dr. John Chen, and they bonded over their shared love of theatre. Dennis officially joined the board of directors after witnessing a fundraising play that Dr. Chen and other board members performed. He quickly became a dedicated supporter of Centaur in many more ways than one and created lasting memories with Hélène and their daughters. Some of their favourite productions included MOB by Catherine-Anne Toupin, Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, and Seeds by Annabel Soutar.

Centaur Theatre remains dedicated to upholding the values that Dennis held dear, with particular emphasis on its position as a gathering place for both Anglophone and Francophone communities in our beloved city. Dennis’s profound impact on Centaur’s community is immeasurable. His wide-ranging generosity has left an indelible mark on our organization. His legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of theatregoers and philanthropists to share his passion for the arts.

Dennis’s passing is a great loss for us all, and we extend our deepest condolences to Hélène, Catherine, and Geneviève. We know that Dennis will be remembered fondly by all those who had the privilege of knowing him, and we will honour his memory by continuing to cultivate a vibrant arts community at Centaur Theatre Company.