On With the Show
New Hale Centre Theatre Opens Its Doors in Sandy
Hale Centre Theatre’s new home in Sandy is a 130,000-square-foot performing arts facility with two stages, nearly 1,400 seats and world-class technological advancements.
It’s a home that’s come a long way from the theater’s beginnings more than 30 years ago.
“It was never anything that either one of us as founders would have ever imagined, because we started in a little converted lingerie factory on South Main Street in South Salt Lake,” says Sally Dietlein, Hale Centre Theatre co-founder and executive producer. “It looked like an X-rated movie joint, but people came like crazy.”
In fact, theatergoers have filled the seats ever since, which is the reason for the move to Sandy.
“Ticket prices would have quickly become less affordable because we were out of seats and costs were rising, which is something we weren’t favorable to because we want families to come,” Dietlein says. “Theater shouldn’t just be for elitists; it should be for everyone.”
After two expansions in South Salt Lake and a move to West Valley City, Hale Centre Theatre was still selling out shows. With the organization operating at 100 percent capacity, board members started searching for a new home about five years ago.
“We grew and grew and knew something needed to be done,” Dietlein says. “Luckily, Sandy’s mayor and the city council believed in what we wanted to do and knew of a perfect spot.”
That site is just off Interstate 15 at 9900 South, conveniently located for both Salt Lake and Utah County residents. The facility is part of a master plan for Sandy’s city center, which includes high-rise residences, renovated shops and a new freeway off-ramp.
Funding for the $80 million building came in two parts. Sandy bonded for approximately half the cost, to be paid over time. The other half came from community donations.
“All along the way, at those times when maybe it felt like it wasn’t going to come together, someone stepped up — and it was someone different every time,” says Rob Brough, chairman of the Hale Centre Theatre board of trustees.
With its expanded capacity and two stages, Hale Centre Theatre nearly doubles the number of patrons it can accommodate and provides those guests with technologically enhanced productions.
For example, an 8-foot tall LED screen wraps around the circumference of the theater. The stage, which TAIT Towers manufactured in London, features 48 moving parts for changing sets and enhancing storytelling.
“TAIT Towers has done major, complicated stages all over the world, including most of the Cirque du Soleil stages and the 2012 Olympics stage,” says Mark Dietlein, Hale Centre Theatre co-founder, president, CEO and executive producer. “They said this stage is the most technologically advanced live theater stage in the world. It raises, it lowers, it rotates, it comes in from the side. You can take the whole stage down and put a new stage on top of it.”
The facility also has special features to assist hearing-impaired guests.
“One of our volunteers who has watched ‘Forever Plaid’ many times was in tears when we turned on the new listening technology,” Sally Dietlein says. “For the first time, he could hear every word.”
Along with new technology, the performing arts center offers plenty of parking, more legroom, ample restrooms, meeting space for preshow gatherings and an outdoor plaza.
“This theater is world-class from the standpoint that there’s not anything like it in the world,” Brough says. “And it’s right here in Sandy, Utah.”
For Mark and Sally Dietlein, the theater fulfills a dream more than three decades in the making.
“We’re deeply grateful to the community and all who have embraced the vision of what world-class family theater can do for our community,” Mark Dietlein says. “We have to pinch ourselves every day to realize this kind of dream has actually come to fruition.”