An ode to Orem’s Hale Center Theater

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The Orem Hale Center Theater. The Hale Center Theater has been in operation for more than 30 years. (Hale Center Theater).

The Hale Center Theater in Orem is preparing for a new location and name. The theater has been a beloved part of the city for many in the arts community.

“After over 30 years of creating theatrical memories, the Hale Center Theater in Orem has found a new home in the doTERRA campus in Pleasant Grove,” according to Hale Center Theater Orem’s website. The new theater will be called The Ruth.

Some crowd favorites from the Hale Orem include “Peter Pan,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Annie,” to name a few.

“I have a fond little place in my heart for the Hale Orem, especially now that I live here,” Lauralyn Malmstrom, a lover of the arts and a frequent visitor to the theater, said.

According to Malmstrom, the theater is the best of both worlds.

“You get to see such high-quality theater, but it’s also in this cozy, intimate environment.”

Elodia Spray is a schoolteacher who moved to Utah ten years ago. She visited the Hale for the first time after the school’s principal invited her to see “A Christmas Carol.”

“It is my all time favorite holiday movie, so I was skeptical … (but) the play was amazing!” Spray said.

The personal feel of the small theater and its transformation during a production is something Spray loves, and it keeps her going back.

Blair Howell is a theater and entertainment reviewer for national and local publications. He moved to Utah 15 years ago and is a self-proclaimed lifelong lover of the arts.

The Hale Orem does “spectacular work” making productions that are “tremendously creative” and “very inventive,” Howell said.

“Beyond being a theater, they really understand theater,” Howell said. “They cast well and they get good directors, but what’s fun and unique about Hale is the intimacy.”

According to Howell, Utah has a “unique love” for the arts and a “very active theater community,” explaining why it was important for the Hale to expand.

“They need the space,” Howell said. “They do excellent work … (and) they need the opportunity to grow … and do the same quality work on a larger scale.”

The Ruth “honors the visionary storytelling” of the “theater’s namesakes – Ruth and Nathan Hale,” according to the website.

An image of The Ruth. The Ruth is named after the namesake Nathan and Ruth Hale. (Hale Center Theater)

The new theater will be significantly larger, spanning 70,000 square feet with two floors, two stages and more. One of the theaters will honor the original by having a 300-seat studio theater with improved stage and intimate seating configurations.

The theater’s expansion makes a statement about the arts in Utah. However, there have been mixed opinions.

For Stephanie Harris, who has visited the theater several times in the last few years, it is a good move, especially for the Hale’s taller audiences.

“The seats were a little squishy for us tall folks. But, you get into the play, and you forget about all that,” Harris shared.

Mabi LaParra de Galvez, a Spanish Fork resident, said she is happy for the city of Pleasant Grove and the people in it but not so much for herself because of the distance.

“It’s farther from me,” LaParra de Galvez said. She also expressed her concern that the new, bigger theater won’t feel as “homey and close” as the Orem theater.

“I really love that one,” she said. “It was a small old theater, but the performances were great and it wasn’t as pricey as other places.”

LaParra de Galvez said she loves to see the talent of performers in live theater. Similarly, Malmstrom said that unlike movies or TV shows, live theater and entertainment are “magical” because they are “so raw and unedited.”

“It’s a cool representation of life and the human story that none of us are edited, and none of us are filtered,” Malmstrom said. “You just do it. You mess up, you keep going.”

For Malmstrom, this rawness makes live performances “really emotional” and allows audiences to connect with live performers.

“It’s a human experience to see another human face to face … watching them share a story and take on these characters that are showing real human emotion,” Malmstrom said. “And I think it’s so important to have those moments that connect us as humans.”

Before transitioning to The Ruth, the Orem Hale Center Theater will host one final season. More information can be found on their website.

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