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McDonald/Swenson benefit buys new seats for Orem's Hale theater

Published February 21, 2012 10:42 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What did two weeks' work by two Broadway stars buy a Utah theater? More than 300 plush theater seats.

Hale Center Theater Orem has installed 305 plush new seats, which were bought from the proceeds of a 2010 producton of "110 in the Shade" featuring Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Will Swenson, according to the theater website Broadway World.

Swenson has close ties to Hale: He's a grandson of matriarch Ruth Hale, brother of the theater's current managing director Cody Swenson (who shares the job with his wife, Anne), and got his acting start in Hale productions.

Swenson met McDonald on a Broadway revival of "110 in the Shade" (she played the female lead, he understudied the male lead), and the two got engaged on New Year's Eve.

Swenson received a Tony nomination for his performance in "Hair," and starred in the musical "Priscilla Queen of the Desert." McDonald is a four-time Tony winner, currently starring in a revival of "Porgy & Bess."