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Hale Center Theater Orem moving to Pleasant Grove, gifted $5 million and land from doTerra

By Genelle Pugmire - | Feb 23, 2022

Courtesy Hale Center Theater Orem

Rendering of The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater to be built in Pleasant Grove.

For 32 years, Hale Center Theater Orem has been entertaining audiences with their crisp musical productions, snappy dancing and talented casts. On Wednesday, the theater announced a new agreement with doTerra and move to Pleasant Grove.

The Hale Center Theater Orem has found a new home on the campus of doTerra in Pleasant Grove. In collaboration with the Cook Center for Human Connection and the City of Pleasant Grove, doTerra has donated $5 million and provided the land that will allow the theater to begin construction of its new performing arts facility.

As part of the relocation to Pleasant Grove, the Hale Center Theater Orem will be formally renamed “The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater” and less formally known as “The Ruth,” in honor of the founders, according to a statement from the theater.

“Hale Center Theatre of Orem has been a staple in our community for over 30 years. The association with HCTO has been tremendous and we are confident they will continue to do much good in our regional community. We wish them well in their next act in Pleasant Grove,” said Steven Downs, deputy city manager.

“The arts are a vital part of our community, and we can’t think of a better investment than to support a beloved fixture of Utah County and an organization that is committed to bringing people together through uplifting and quality entertainment,” said Gregory Cook, doTerra founding executive and chairman of the board. “We appreciate the vision of the Hale family and the cooperation of the city of Pleasant Grove who worked together to make this new theater a reality. We can’t wait for this beautiful addition to our campus and to Pleasant Grove.”

Courtesy Hale Center Theater Orem

A rendering of "The Ruth" theater to be built in Pleasant Grove.

While hopeful for the move north, representatives from SCERA and Orem acknowledged and thanked Hale Center Theater for the partnership with the city.

“We wish to add our congratulations along with many others to the Hale Center Theater Orem and doTerra. We have appreciated our association with HCTO for the past 30 years as we have championed the Arts in Orem and the greater community,” said Adam Robertson, president and CEO of SCERA. “The Arts in Utah Valley continue to grow with our population and they will continue to bring great theatre to our Valley and beyond. We are so grateful for amazing companies like doTerra who support the Arts and add to the quality of our lives. Utah Valley is a wonderful place to live. Cheers to HCTO and doTerra.”

For nearly six years, Hale Center Theater Orem has been dreaming and seeking funding help to build a bigger theater in Orem.

It was in December of 2018 that University Place and the Woodbury Corp., in conjunction with Orem, announced a proposed $1 million pledge to the Hale Center Theater Orem.

“Orem has been a fantastic, nurturing community for Hale Center Theater to grow and thrive in over the past 32 years and to become an arts jewel in the area. I am very grateful for the city of Orem, with its city manager, other staff, and elected officials’ support of the theater’s long-standing plans to remain in Orem,” said Karen McCandless, former Orem council member and current HCTO board member. “I am also grateful to the Woodbury Corporation for its support of the theater’s efforts to remain in Orem. Various factors contributed to the theater’s change in plans and I am excited about new partnerships with doTerra and Pleasant Grove with the new Ruth and Nathan Theater. The performing arts scene will continue to flourish in the area.”

Courtesy Hale Center Theater Orem

Dancers in Hale Center Theater's 2020 production of Newsies.

The new building is expected to nearly double the capacity for the main proscenium-thrust stage with 670 seats, and will allow for an expanded completely “in-the-round” theater. It will also include a second performing space with flexible seating for youth productions and smaller shows. The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater will include the Hale Academy for the Performing Arts and its education programs for youth and adults.

On Tuesday night, Woodbury was informed of the theater’s move to Pleasant Grove and its new partnership.

“We are so grateful to doTerra and the city of Pleasant Grove for the opportunity to grow our theater and expand our educational programs,” said Cody Swenson, executive director and co-founder of the Hale Center Foundation for the Arts and Education. “We’ve been blessed to call Orem home and are glad to know we won’t be moving far. We extend our warm appreciation to the city of Orem and its many leaders and community who have supported our theater for more than three decades. Thank you to those who have donated to this project and helped us get to this point in our journey. We welcome the continued support of individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the new theater.”

Anne Swenson, the theater’s executive producer, said the new theater could give them extra space to start doing non-musical theater productions as well.

“The opportunity that doTerra and Pleasant Grove gave to us gives us space to spread out the theater. The financial backing is a real boost and as a 501(c)(3) it is the most responsible thing to do,” Anne Swenson said.

The city of Pleasant Grove has pledged its support to help the theater construct and operate the new arts facilities.

“We have long admired the incredible product the Hale family has put on its stage for the last 32 years, and when we saw an opportunity to welcome them to our city, we didn’t think twice about it,” said Guy Fugal, mayor of Pleasant Grove. “This change will allow the Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater to grow to new heights while also bringing tremendous economic impact to the city. We know our citizens, as well as art lovers from across Utah County and the state, are celebrating this announcement and are excited for the possibilities.”

The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater is set to break ground in Pleasant Grove this summer with building completion expected in early 2024.

Established in 1990 by Ruth and Nathan Hale and their children, Cody and Linda Hale, and grandchildren, Cody and Anne Swenson, the theater has stood as a pillar of the performing arts in Utah Valley and has received a number of awards and recognition including consistently being voted “Best Live Theater.”

The theater produces nearly 400 performances of family-friendly comedies and musicals each year. Hale’s professional costume shop will also move with the theater.

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