New Hale Theater breaks ground in Pleasant Grove
With pomp, circumstance and 70 golden shovels, the next step for the future of Utah County’s theater community has been taken. Elected officials, business leaders and well-wishers came to the doTerra campus in Pleasant Grove on Tuesday to break ground on “The Ruth” — officially The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater — a $50 million state-of-the-art facility for performing arts.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, one of the speakers on hand for the groundbreaking, praised the new construction while speaking about the importance of art and what it will mean for the community.
“Where this project will help (and) our community will help is that human connection,” Henderson said. “I love the fact that this could be a catalyst not just for economic opportunity, not just an engine for economics here in Utah County, but a catalyst for the connection that we still need in our society.”
Community was the message of the day. Pleasant Grove Mayor Guy Fugal, in his speech, expressed gratitude for everyone who made the day possible, calling it “one of the most great days of my being mayor.”
“We love what theater can do. How it bonds us and connects us as we can pray together, as we laugh together and as we celebrate together — it helps us to connect on a deeper level,” said Julie Cook, doTerra’s co-founder.
The project was announced in February after doTerra donated the land and $5 million, in collaboration with the Cook Center for Human Connection and the City of Pleasant Grove. The theater will also be the future home for the Hale Center Theater Orem.
According to the original announcement, the new theater will have 670 seats, nearly doubling the current building’s capacity, and include a second theater for youth productions and smaller shows.
Elder Jeffrey Singer, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discussed the nature of performance and the connection between art and faith.
“Shakespeare reinvented and perfected theater. Act I was the setup, Act II was the drama and Act III is the resolution. And this is our Christian religion,” Singer said. He encouraged actors and attendees to feel “a sense of community, of belonging” and to build a place where people feel spiritually and emotionally safe.
Anne Swenson, artistic director of The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater, who introduced herself to the crowd as a married-in member of the Hale family, gave a speech focusing on the building’s namesakes. “I am grateful that we get to honor them with this new theater that we called The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater, but we will affectionately refer to it as The Ruth.” She went on to thank Cook, along with her husband and fellow doTera co-founder Greg Cook, and the people of Pleasant Grove for their welcoming of the Hale family.
With tears in her eyes, Swenson thanked the performers, directors and stage crew for their work at the groundbreaking and for making “this magic happen.”
The hundreds of community members who came out, braving the weather as multiple speakers joked, were afforded performances of songs from “Wicked,” “Newsies,” “Hamilton,” “Frozen” and more. Construction will now begin on the theater, with a goal to open for the 2024 production of “A Christmas Carol.”
In the end, members of the doTerra board of directors, Pleasant Grove officials, performers and many more dug their shovels into dirt, symbolizing a move into the future of performing arts in Utah County.
“Today, we celebrate the knowledge that this is going to be the home for The Ruth theater forever, and we’re grateful for that,” said Greg Cook.