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Hale Centre Theatre will open its ‘big baby’ in Sandy with ‘Aida’ and ‘Forever Plaid’

First Published      Last Updated May 08 2016 12:05 pm

Sandy • In talking about the new Hale Centre Theatre complex, company co-founder and vice-president Sally Dietlein employs multiple exclamation points. "This is a great day!" she said with enthusiasm, as she and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan led a tour of the construction site that will be the company's $70-million home. A theater complex, that is, which she referred to as this "big baby."

The complex will house two theaters: the Jewel Box, a 460-seat house with a proscenium-thrust stage, and the 900-seat Centre Stage, featuring a technologically advanced round platform for the arena staging that Hale is known for.



The new theater's technology will "literally take your breath away, much of that technology literally designed for our theater," Dietlein said Wednesday at a press walk-through, where she also announced the company's 2017 season lineup.

The company's first five shows will be performed at its West Valley City theater, with the September opening of "Forever Plaid" on the smaller stage at the Sandy complex. The first show at the new arena stage will be the Nov. 16-Jan. 20 run of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida."

"It will be one of the most unique theaters in the entire country," Dolan added, saying he hasn't heard complaints from Sandy taxpayers about last year's successful $42 million bond vote to fund the theater. Theater company donors will fund the rest of the bill, under a 27-year lease-to-own deal on the building.

Jeff Beecher, executive vice president of Layton Construction, said the project currently employs 90 workers and expects to expand to 250 to 300 in upcoming months. He called the building a very complicated concrete and steel project, requiring 970 ton of rebar, to reinforce walls that extend 60 feet below grade and 112 feet above ground.

Stageworks were designed by Tait Stage Technology, an international design company. The new round stage will have six more lifts than the current stage, said Rob Kinmont, Hale's technical engineering manager, as he and Kacy Udy, the company's technical director, detailed the winches and state-of-the art automation systems. "Basically, they're really cool," Kinmont said.

The theater will be able to fly in a whole new set in 30 seconds, Udy says, about the same length of time for an actor's quick costume changes.

Traditional theater, viewed from a proscenium stage, might be compared to a painting, while arena theater could be considered a sculpture where everybody in the audience has a different view, Udy said.

Two 18-inch-thick walls will separate the theaters to provide sound barriers, while passageways underneath the stages will allow technicians to navigate between the two theaters. "The show behind the show is going to be really interesting," Beecher said.

The curve of the oval building and the curved road leading to it will suggest the curved stages inside, said architect Lyle Beecher, of Beecher Walker Architects.

The new complex will nearly double the theater company's current offerings, from its present 400 annual performances to a projected 700 shows. Many shows sell out at the current West Valley venue, which seats 613 in nine rows and is 42,000 square feet. The new Sandy complex will be 130,000 square feet.

The two houses in the new complex will offer 1,360 seats in 10 rows, to accommodate the company's 24,000 annual season ticket holders and expand its audience, Dietlein said. New seats will have 6 more inches of leg room.

Currently, the company has 10 days to two weeks of downtime between each show, but programming for the two theaters will dovetail "so we will literally never be dark," Dietlein said.

The season will include September's regional premiere of "The Heart of Robin Hood," a new adaptation of the familiar myth that has debuted at Shakespearean companies. Other shows include April's run of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and such classic Hale offerings as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" in February. In October, to serve as a farewell to the current digs, the company will stage "A Bundle of Trouble," a family comedy written by company founders Nathan and Ruth Hale.

ellenf@sltrib.com

 

AT A GLANCE

Hale Centre Theatre, 2017

“The Nerd” » Dec. 31-Feb. 4. West Valley City theater. Classic comedy by Larry Shue.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” » Feb. 17-April 8. WVC. Classic musical set in 1850s Oregon about seven uncouth men who steal brides.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” » April 15-May 27. WVC. Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel about a young Southern girl, Scout, who is taught about race and the realities of life by her attorney father, Atticus Finch.

Production TBA » June 2-Aug. 12. WVC.

“The Heart of Robin Hood” » Aug. 25-Oct. 14. WVC. A regional premiere of David Farr’s stage adaptation of the Robin Hood myth by The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

“Forever Plaid” » Sept. 1-Nov. 15. Grand opening of the Jewel Box Theatre in Sandy. The classic musical about what happens when a 1950s-era quartet is allowed to return to Earth for a final show. Hale producers say this is one of the company’s most requested shows.

“A Bundle of Trouble” » Oct. 21-Nov. 30. WVC. Nathan and Ruth Hale’s comedy about what happens to an organized life after a 5-year-old daughter comes to live with her dad.

“Aida” » Nov. 16-Jan. 20, 2018. Grand opening of Sandy’s Centre Stage Theatre. Elton John and Tim Rice’s 2000 Broadway musical about star-crossed lovers in ancient Egypt, based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi.

“A Christmas Carol” » Dec. 1-Dec. 23. Jewel Box Theatre in Sandy. A new staging of the company’s 33rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic fable.

Tickets » Season ticket holders will be able to renew their subscriptions starting in June, with new subscriptions for sale beginning Aug. 1. Packages for adults will begin at $238 for eight shows, about $29 per show, or $18 per ticket for youth. Subscribers can choose to add on tickets to “A Christmas Carol.”


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