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West Valley City Journal

The show goes on at former Hale Centre Theatre building

Jul 29, 2019 04:43PM ● By Darrell Kirby

Harman Theatre hosted “Forever Plaid” in June. Previous runs of the musical were held at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center amphitheater.

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

As Andrew Wallentine led a visitor on a brief tour of what used to be the home of Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City during a recent weekday afternoon, the building stood eerily quiet. 

For the moment, there was none of the buzz of the countless patrons who flocked to the thousands of live plays produced by Hale Centre Theatre during the 19 years it occupied the facility, known officially today as Harman Theatre. Hale departed for its new state-of-the-art performing arts center in Sandy in 2017.

Wallentine, director of West Valley City’s Division of Arts and Culture and manager of the 42,000-square-foot city-owned theater at 3333 S. Decker Lake Dr., said the silence is gradually being replaced by a new wave of activity and theatergoers as the venue transitions to its role as a true “community” theater. 

“A lot of people are excited to see theater back in this building,” he said, noting that its return has left some visitors with “tears in their eyes” as they remembered their experiences during the Hale years. 

When Hale Centre Theatre left, West Valley City sought Requests For Proposals (RFP) for the 612-seat theater, whether it was a sale or some other option. “None of those RFPs worked out for the city,” Wallentine said.  

The new script for Harman Theatre began to be written when Jeff Olsen, assistant director of the Division of Arts and Culture, researched similar municipally owned theaters around the country. He asked, “Hey, what if we came up with our own plan?” to partner with professional and community performing arts groups to bring shows to the theater, Wallentine recalled. 

Thus, a strategy was born. Wallentine and colleagues began figuratively knocking on doors and seeking partnerships. One of the more notable groups Harman Theatre connected with is the renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival. The Cedar City-based organization held its annual gala and stage production of “The Front Page” at Harman Theatre in February after conducting the event in Salt Lake City in previous years. The Utah Shakespeare Festival plans to return to the theater in March for the 2020 gala. 

Frank Mack, executive producer of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, praised the new relationship with West Valley City. “We are eager to continue to work with the city to possibly expand our programming there in the future,” he said. “The developing partnership presents a great opportunity for the festival to perform in a beautiful, wonderfully theatrical facility on the Wasatch Front, where many of our audience that come to Cedar City live.”

Harman Theatre also hosted “Forever Plaid” in June. Previous runs of the musical were held at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center amphitheater. Wallentine said Harman provided an intimate, close-up experience for the audience. 

Upcoming shows include the comedy/impressionist/musical duo Marcus & Guy on Aug. 23 and “Prometheus Bound,” a Greek tragedy presented by Westminster College and the Division of Arts and Culture on Sept. 20. 

Information and tickets are available at and (801) 965-5140. 

Wallentine wants to make sure Harman Theatre productions are cost-friendly to the public. “Our hope is to be able to offer a quality production to the community at a price that is affordable,” especially for couples and families. He said the goal is to keep ticket prices in the $10 to $20 range whenever possible, significantly less than similar performances at other venues.

The Division of Arts and Culture is seeking input from performing arts groups on what they would like to see regarding future renovations, upgrades, and improvements to Harman Theatre. They are encouraged to complete a survey at

Wallentine said the city has not completely ruled out listening to offers for the theater, but as its future becomes more solidified, the possibility of selling the building becomes less likely. 

“There is a lot of wonderful community support and excitement about this theater being up and going again,” he said and added, “If you don’t have an eye to the future, I think it is a great disservice to the community.”