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Hale Centre Theatre dreams of fanciful future in Sandy

Published November 29, 2012 8:16 am

Theater pulls back curtain for Sandy officials on plans for multiple-stage, state-of-the-art facility.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Sandy • Right now, it is intermission. Act Three for the next expansion project of the Hale Centre Theatre is about to begin.

If all goes as planned, the theater may have a new home waiting in Sandy in four years when its lease runs out in West Valley City.

Representatives of the theater met with Mayor Tom Dolan and City Council members Tuesday night to unveil plans for the future of performing arts at 9950 Monroe St. Sandy hopes to convince Hale officials to move the theater to the 11½ acres of land at that site, where they would be able to expand the facility over 5½ acres; the remaining land would be set aside for other development.

Rob Brough, chairman of the theater's board of trustees, told the council that the facility in West Valley City is too small and, as the performing arts company has more than 24,000 ticket holders a year and has to turn thousands away because of lack of space, the board has two options — raise ticket prices, or move to a larger facility. He said raising ticket prices wasn't an alternative they wanted to consider, so they are planning to expand.

"We are literally bursting at the seams," Brough said to the council.

This isn't the first time the facility has moved as it expanded.

In 1985, Act One began in a dilapidated part of South Salt Lake, inside an old brassiere factory, but expanded 2½ years later. Act Two came when it moved to a larger facility in West Valley City. Brough hopes that Act Three will be a move to Sandy.

"When we talk about the finest performing arts center in the state of Utah, we mean the finest performing arts center in the country," Brough said.

Brough said he is "very encouraged" about discussions for a future in Sandy and noted the lease will expire in 2016 on the current location so, "the clock is ticking as we speak about this."

The new Hale Centre Theatre won't just have more than triple the seating. The preliminary drawings show a state-of-the-art multi-story building with 1,900 seats in three performing areas, giving the audience a full 3-D experience with the ability to store 26 rotating stages, up to 20-foot high LED walls. Brough says it will be unlike anything currently available.

"It will be really charming and beautiful," said Sally Dietlein, vice president and executive producer of Hale Centre Theatre, adding that there will be a look and design to replicate the Elizabethan-era feel.

Councilman Dennis Tenney asked if the performing arts center would compete or collaborate with the Shakespearean festival in Cedar City and how it would impact schools in the state.

Hale plans to partner with the Utah Shakespearean Festival and allow the festival to do perform shows out of its facility. Hale also would like to partner with The Canyons School District and other schools in the area.

"It absolutely essential that we don't make theatre elitist," Dietlein said, adding that the desire to not raise ticket prices was an effort to keep the shows affordable for the families. "Theater needs to be available to everybody."

Mark Dietlein, Hale president and CEO, calls the new stages "state of the art on steroids."

"If they like that moving stage," he said referring to current ticket holders. "… then they are going to love what we have in mind for the new stage."

The theater's design will allow for the ability to hoist actors above the audience and fly them around along with sets similar to Las Vegas shows, but is said to be "the most unique stage in the world," once it is built. Also, with the theater's multiple stages, there will be no need for a two-week gap between shows, as there is now, Mark Dietlein said.

"We want people to experience something and just say, 'Wow!'" he said.

An Elizabethan period-style building will feature bistro tables, a fireplace lounge, and an old English pub for crowds to enjoy while waiting for a performance. It will also have several rooms for acting facilities and classrooms for teaching the liberal arts. On the second level there will be office spaces. Three floors below ground level there will be acting spaces, design room with pit areas to build stages and props.

Hale officials believe the Sandy site will provide the theater with prime visibility along Interstate 15.

"It is arguably the best spot left on I-15," Sally Dietlein said.

"We are really excited for this," Tenney said after the council ended its questions.

The board of directors for the theater meet on Dec. 6 and hope to make a decision about which city it will place its future in.

"We have every intention of doing everything we can about keeping Hale Centre Theatre," said West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle.

The theatre also provided a similar presentation to West Valley City about a month ago, Pyle said adding that the city would help them expand where they are or in the nearby area.

"We intend on keeping them there and doing anything in our power to do that."

Pyle said the city has a number of incentives it could provide including one where the city provides the financing and the theatre would pay the city, like it previously did in 1997 when it got a $4.3 million bond paid for by the city, the theatre used rent payments to pay off the city's bond.

cimaron@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CimCity