Obituary: Hannah Dorfman, 1988-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Hannah Dorfman, 1988-2023 

Bright light in the entertainment world had an uncanny ability to befriend people and always put others first

Published September 25, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated September 25, 2023 at 9:25 a.m.

click to enlarge Hannah Dorfman - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Hannah Dorfman

With her family by her side, Hannah Dorfman, 35, of Shelburne, Vt., passed peacefully on September 6, 2023, after living with cancer for more than two years. Hannah is a beautiful soul who lived life to the fullest. She will be remembered for her ready smile, positive energy and unconditional kindness. Hannah’s life was rich by every measure, astonishing in its details and full of love to its dying ember.

After spending her formative years in the Boston area, Hannah moved with her family to Shelburne, where her love for the performing arts blossomed. Family gatherings at Thanksgiving set the stage for her earliest performances as she danced around the living room and shared her emerging (and squeaky) passion for the clarinet, filling the house with joy and laughter.

Hannah honed her skills in dance and music and opened up her talents to a wider audience. She hit the stage for the first time at age 10, representing Shelburne 4-H with a captivating solo dance performance of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” in front of a full auditorium. By her early teenage years, she had performed in drama productions at her beloved OMNI Camp in Maine and played clarinet with the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s small ensembles.

While Hannah never shied from the spotlight onstage, she thrived behind the scenes. As any cast or crew would attest, organizing a production is no small feat. Thanks to Hannah’s strong work ethic and persistence, her spatial awareness and organizational skills, and her can-do attitude, she made a difficult job seem effortless. Every production team who worked with Hannah would be quick to acknowledge her ability to direct others with clarity, integrity and warmth. Helping others shine was not just her job, it was part of her DNA.

In high school, she stage-managed memorable performances of Into the Woods and Les Misérables. At Ithaca College, her theatrical endeavors included such musicals as The Full Monty, Urinetown and The Count of Monte Cristo. During an unforgettable semester abroad with the Mark Summers Casting Agency in London, Hannah learned the art of producing music videos and commercials.

Upon graduating with a degree in drama and dance, Hannah moved onto Broadway, becoming a production assistant for Anything Goes, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Brief Encounter. Her professional experience soared to new heights when she stage-managed several national tours that included Jay-Z and Will Smith’s production of Fela! The Musical, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s the High Road Tour, and Derek and Julianne Hough’s Move Beyond: Live on Tour.

Eventually, Hannah’s adventures took her to Las Vegas to help the Broadway musical Rock of Ages set up residency at the Venetian. Cast and crew became a second family to her, and she soon created a home within the Vegas entertainment community. When one cast member began a variety show called Mondays Dark to raise money for local charities, Hannah was among the first to volunteer her time and skills.

When live performances dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hannah turned to production work in TV and film. She moved to Los Angeles in 2021, bringing her endearing personality and theatrical gifts to Hollywood. She became an assistant location manager for “Generation,” “Made for Love,” “American Crime Story,” “Studio 666,” “Euphoria” and “Shrinking” — all while fulfilling her dream of becoming a “California Girl,” rocking out in her white jeep while driving with friends down Sunset Boulevard on their way to the beach.

Sports dominated Hannah’s spare time. Rarely would a day go by without “SportsCenter” playing for hours on end in the background of her apartment. She was a devout New England Patriots fan and loved watching football with friends. She supported the Boston Bruins but enthusiastically cheered on the Vegas Golden Knights. Hannah combined passion and profession when coordinating entertainment for the WNBA Las Vegas Aces, the NCAA PAC-12 basketball tournaments and the NBA All-Star Game.

The consummate professional, Hannah did not let cancer treatment get in the way of her work. She continued giving 100 percent on the sets of “The Old Man” and “Mayans M.C.” Against all odds, she fulfilled her dream to complete a full-length feature film, working long days and late nights on Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley.

Hannah was unassuming, fun-loving and strong. She always put others first. Working with some of the biggest names in entertainment, she remained true to herself, embracing everyone for who they were — whether or not they were in the limelight.

Relationships were the cornerstone of Hannah’s life. She had an uncanny ability to befriend people, and she nurtured those friendships in ways others often do not. She always stayed close, and she never forgot. To Hannah, if you were her friend, you were her friend for life.

She touched the lives of many people and will forever live on in their hearts and memories. Hannah will be sorely missed by her family — her parents, Richard and Gillian, and her brother, Luke — as well as her other “families” scattered around the globe.

A celebration of Hannah’s life will be held at All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne on October 20, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to consider a donation to the Hannah Dorfman Performing Arts Scholarship at Champlain Valley Union High School, a legacy fund to support students aspiring to pursue futures in entertainment and the performing arts. Checks can be made payable to the scholarship and mailed to CVU Hannah Dorfman Performing Arts Scholarship, c/o Champlain Valley Union High School, 369 CVU Rd., Hinesburg, VT 05461.

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