Renovated Utah theater shows classics with modern technology

(Ashtyn Asay | The Herald Journal | AP) Gary Griffin poses for a photo in the Utah Theatre sound booth, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Logan, Utah. The theater that recently underwent a major renovation and is showing classic favorites using modern technology.

Logan • A northern Utah theater that recently underwent a major renovation and is showing classic favorites using modern technology.

The makeover made possible with donations from the likes of Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller transformed a run-down movie house into a restored version of its art-deco grandeur. The lobby is elegantly decorated with fresh wallpaper and glittering chandeliers, the Herald Journal reported.

On the Saturday before Christmas, the Utah Theatre staff were popping popcorn and preparing for the 6 p.m. movie as patrons wandered in to buy tickets 45 minutes before showtime.

Upstairs in the sound booth, Gary Griffin, the managing director of the Utah Festival Opera Company, was surrounded by equipment and DVDs, ready to play a holiday classic: 1954’s “White Christmas.”

Halloween means showings of “Rocky Horror” and “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” Other times, he picks a theme or performer, like playing six movies starring Marilyn Monroe in a week.

In the summertime, the theater shows silent movies, accompanied by an organist who travels up from Provo to accompany the film on the theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

The theater is a unique draw in Logan.

“For people that see an older favorite on their TV screen, they can come here and see it on the big screen,” said Taylor Griffin, an employee at the Utah Theatre.

Still, the theater tries to stay away from R-rated movies. With one exception.

“I’ll show ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ just because it’s the most popular show … for the college kids,” Gary Griffin said. “But for the most part we keep to a lot of Disney movies.”

Rather than previews of upcoming flicks before each movie, he shows recordings of concerts and cartoons.

“We’d like them to experience movies the way that they were experienced back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, with a comfortable place that’s very nice, that’s light and cheery,” Gary Griffin said. “They can see cartoons and they don’t have to sit and watch 30 minutes’ worth of advertising before they ever get around to the movies.”