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Donors wanted as new theater emerges in Pleasant Grove

By Genelle Pugmire - | Aug 4, 2023
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Government officials, members of doTerra, the Hale family and others participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking for The Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater in Pleasant Grove on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.
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An exterior rendering of the Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater in Pleasant Grove.
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Costuming for "A Christmas Carol" from the Hale Center Theater's costume shop.
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An inside map of the theaters and ballroom at The Ruth in Pleasant Grove.
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A head-on rendering of 77,000-square-foot Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater in Pleasant Grove.
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Construction is underway on The Ruth theater in Pleasant Grove.

Ruth and Nathan Hale began a dynasty of culture and theater for families in Southern California. When the family came to Utah, it continued with children, grandchildren and cousins opening two Hale Center theaters, one in Orem and the other in Sandy.

Children Cody and Linda Hale and grandchildren Cody and Anne Swenson started the Orem facility in 1990. Now, there will be another Hale family namesake, the Ruth and Nathan Hale Theater, nicknamed “The Ruth” — a new theater being built in Pleasant Grove, replacing the small Hale Center Theater Orem.

With the help of doTERRA, Greg and Julie Cook and the Cook Center for Human Connection, Pleasant Grove and other stakeholders, the move will ultimately provide two theaters, a banquet hall and more.

“We heard the Hale was trying to get into a new home,” Greg Cook said. “There was an opportunity to play a wonderful role to get the theater in a new location.”

Cook, the founding executive and chairman of doTERRA, with support from his employees and board, offered up 5 acres of land on the doTERRA site, money and access to get the theater to Pleasant Grove. Pleasant Grove voters approved a CARE tax that would help on a yearly basis. Then stakeholders, designers and developers came onboard.

The framing is going up and the countdown has begun. While that is happening, funding sources are still being obtained.

On Thursday at the Broadway in the Mountains event, the Cooks entertained interested parties while informing them about how they are “raising the Ruth” via the launch of a new campaign that will allow for the operation of the upgraded theater while keeping ticket prices budget friendly.

The new Impact Club will provide tickets and other benefits to families, organizations and businesses that participate through yearly donations of $5,000 up to $100,000 in three-year commitments. Exclusive naming rights are available to large donors. Another perk includes dinner before performances in the large banquet hall dedicated to the club, adjacent to the grand theater.

“The Impact Club is the perfect mix of getting and giving access to the theater. Through the Impact Club, families and businesses can give back to the arts, while enjoying the wonderful productions at The Ruth with their friends, families, customers and employees,” said Jeremiah Christenot, vice president of advancement with Cook Impact. “This club will ensure that theater is alive and thriving at The Ruth for generations to come.”

Anne Brown, president and CEO of the Cook Center for Human Connection, spoke passionately about the Impact Club’s potential influence.

“The members of the Impact Club will have an exceptional theater experience, but more importantly it will give back to the community in a way that will keep theater alive and thriving in Utah County,” Brown said. “The Impact Club providing low prices for theater tickets, competitive pay for actors, access to top-quality shows and thriving education programs will be meaningful to the families of Utah County for generations to come.”

In their current Orem location, it takes about $4 million to run the offices and productions each year, according to Cody Swenson, executive director. At the new location, it could take $14 million or more.

The increase in costs will be helped a bit by a seating increase, which depending on the grand theater’s stage formation could be between 685 and 800 seats. The studio theater holds 300 patrons, or about the same size as the current Orem location, and will be the home stage for youth theater productions.

The 77,000-square-foot facility will be able to hold more than 1,100 theatergoers at a time with an estimated yearly attendance of 500,000. The ballroom will hold up to 300.

Method architect Joe Smith and Layton Construction are designing and building the project. The cost to build The Ruth is about $65 million. A $50 million impact is expected from tickets sales and more, coming from residents throughout the county and beyond.

Another new venture is the Ruth Advocacy Council, which is service oriented and asks supporters to promote The Ruth’s creation, mission and purpose.

For now, Swenson said the 33-year-old Hale Center Theater Orem will continue to run through December 2024’s “A Christmas Carol” production, with a potential overlapping of shows at The Ruth. The costume shop will stay at the Orem location for now.

Cook said that it is only right to keep Utah County fitted with cultural locations as there is strong belief that the county’s growth will make it the future focal point of the state.

“We have so much talent here and we need a venue for that talent,” Cook said, mentioning the talent coming out of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University particularly.

Meanwhile, he added, the next generation of performers will benefit because youth theater programs will have a bigger, better home where children can learn.

“A home where creativity flourishes and the future is bright. We want to keep theater alive and thrive in Utah County,” Cook said.


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