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U. Rites Open New Theater

By Harold Lundstrom
Deseret News, 11 October 1962, page A1

Excitement was the keyword at the historically significant dedicatory exercises of the Pioneer Memorial Theater Wednesday evening.

Emotions ran high among those who came to see and hear the beautiful theater dedicated to their pioneer fathers. Emotions ran high in the younger generation anxious to see a great institution dedicated to drama for its era.

And emotions burned brightly in those who had labored so long for and in behalf of the construction of the Pioneer Memorial Theater at the head of Third South on the University of Utah campus overlooking the Salt Lake Valley.

Standing Ovation

Though Shakespeare's immortal “Hamlet” was the play of the electrifying occasion, it was the “performance” of those who participated in the short dedicatory services that received the standing ovation from the brilliant audience – President David O. McKay of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who conceived the idea for the theater in 1945 and who offered the dedicatory prayer; Governor George D. Clyde, President A. Ray Olphin of the University of Utah, and Dr. C. Lowell Lees, director of the University Theater.

In praising the heritage that the pioneers bequeathed, President McKay in his prayer said: “In memory of their sacrifices, of their art, and desire for the esthetic culture, we have met tonight to dedicate this Pioneer Memorial Theater, a beautiful structure reflecting the skill of the architect and builders, a credit to the president and Board of Regents, faculty, and students of the University of Utah.”

Fruit of Freedom

President McKay gave emphasis to the freedom in which the performing arts blossom: “We are grateful that we live in a country where the individual rights of liberty are protected, where the Constitution of the United States vouch safes to every individual the right to speak, the right to worship, the right for the individual to choose as he pleases so long as he grants to other persons those same privileges.

[one line of missing text] ...ernment which permits the building of such edifices. We thank Thee for this state, for the Church, for this great university, and for the business organization which have so willingly contributed to the erection of this “Temple of the Thespian Art.”

Tie With Past

Gov. Clyde expressed feelings of a tie with the past and the future in the erection of the new theater. He noted the sadness that the community had felt when the final performance was given in the “old” Salt Lake Theater back in 1928.

The heritage for which the old theater had passed to succeeding generations could now be realized in the new building, he said.

Cost Of $1.5 Million

The governor also expressed appreciation to The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, the Kennecott Copper Corp., and citizens throughout the State of Utah who had contributed generously to the new building, built at a cost of $1.5 million.

President Olpin recited the history of the “old” Salt Lake Theater and the vents that led up to Wednesday evening's dedication of the new theater.

He paid tribute to the dedicatory night audience: “The audience present for this dedication consists of those who have helped to make the dream come true through their donations – descendants of the pioneers' families, representatives of church, government, and industry, and loyal friends of the theater.

To Honor Pioneers

“The plan for the theater provides that for a small contribution the name of a pioneer ancestor will be placed on a permanent bronze plaque attached to the arm of a seat in this auditorium.

Dr. Lees addressed his remarks to the subject of the role of theater in creative community living.

“If this theater can create awareness,” he said, “it must always create readiness. As Hamlet in our play so beautifully expresses it, “The time is short but the interval is ours and readiness is all.”

Voice Of Destiny

“The building is ours – a beautiful voice ready to articulate a high density. Students and faculty alike are ready. The moment is now.”

The program began at 8 p.m. When the University of Utah A Cappella Choir sang under the direction of Dr. Newell Weight, followed by a posting of the colors.

Sitting on the stage in the dedicatory ceremonies with those who participated were Mayor J. Bracken Lee, Royden Derrick, chairman of the Board of Regents, and Leland B. Flint, board member.

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U. Rites Open New Theater