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Hale Centre Theatre shows what’s behind the curtain of its future facility

First Published      Last Updated Sep 17 2015 12:09 pm


High-tech » “Unique” $65 million theater will seat 1,300, allow hundreds of performances.

Sandy • Politicians joined actors, technology whizzes and VIPs on Wednesday to break ground on a new $65 million Hale Centre Theatre, with a presentation on its planned cutting-edge technology, including 47 moving parts that can shift individually or as a set.

Gemma Guy, vice president of Tait Stage Technologies, said that although her company has helped create performances for the Olympics, Cirque du Soleil and Taylor Swift, this project was "a bit of a challenge" because it was so "unique."

"There isn't any theater around the whole world … that has this amount of technology under one roof," she said.




Guy expects others will be jealous of the new facility's capabilities, but because of the cost and complexity, she doesn't expect a trend in building similar high-tech theaters.

Sandy City has offered to put up a $42.7 million bond, which local government leaders expect the theater to pay back in the next 27 years.

Donors are expected to chip in the remaining $22.3 million, and as of Wednesday, $15 million had already been raised in funds and pledges.

Hale Centre Theatre (HCT) co-founder Mark Dietlein said that on top of building costs, owners have had to juggle the expenses of land and a parking structure. But finances aren't the only challenge in this project.

"To pull all of that stuff together and to do it in the right location has taken a lot of time," he said.

The project has been in the works since 2004, when HCT leaders realized the current facility in West Valley City wasn't big enough to meet demand, with more than 99 percent of the seats filled at every performance, said co-founder Sally Dietlein.

With its recent showing of "The Little Mermaid," she said the theater was doing 14 performances a week and still "turning away hundreds."

While most theaters would simply raise ticket prices, Dietlein said part of the mission of HCT is to be family friendly, including in price, so that wasn't an option.

It's been 11 years since the capacity problem has become evident, she said, and the new facility will allow seating for at least 850 at a theater in the round that's planned to open in January 2017, as well as a 450-seat theater. HCT's lease runs out at the West Valley facility, with 613 seats after renovations, in December 2016.

With the major expansion, HCT says it expects to offer more than 500 performances in 2017 between the two stages, and then more than 700 performances in 2018.

Mark Dietlein said he's enjoyed HCT's nearly 20-year partnership with West Valley City, and he said the theater there will be used "to continue the arts with other organizations."

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said he hadn't heard "a single negative" comment from residents of his city and is thrilled at the prospect of bringing HCT closer to home, especially for children.

"It's a real community asset to have such an interactive community theater within our boundaries, and also we think it's a terrific location," Dolan said. "It will be very visible. It will be here for decades to come."

The 130,000-square-foot facility will be built at 9900 Monroe Street between Sandy City offices and I-15.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams joined Wednesday's celebration, saying that even though Salt Lake Valley is a thriving metropolis, organizations like HCT help it preserve a small-town feel by fostering a sense of community for residents.

Dietlein rambled when he said the new facility will allow HCT to reach new heights.

"It started with a dream, and then to see the progression … and to be able to basically take the lid off of creativity, to not have the restrictions and limitations," he said before adding a curtain call to his thoughts. "This building will enable us to truly go to a new level in terms of performing arts, and so I just feel like a kid at Christmas."

 

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