Theater Was Top Star

Deseret News, 11 October 1962, page A6

The Pioneer Memorial Theater Wednesday evening was a tense audience that knew it was sitting in on one of the most significant Utah cultural events of its generation.

It was an audience that was mostly in its place a full hour before the dedicatory exercises began at 8 p.m. An audience that looked up instantly whenever anyone entered one of the doors into the theater as if it expected to see a pioneer drama patron.

It was an audience that stayed after the final curtain of Hamlet near midnight and searched the small plaques on the arms of the seats trying to find the names of its own pioneer ancestors.

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The Pioneer Theater Wednesday evening was perhaps the most formally dressed audience of this or any other social season.

It was an occasion for seeing many of Utah's prettiest women, attractively gowned, escorted by distinguished husbands in black ties and satin lapels.

It was also one of those rare state-wide occasions when there wasn't a child present.

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The Pioneer Memorial Theater was a theatrical “first night” when photographers were everywhere, where a television camera showed the public who was there and why.

It was a large and spontaneous committee at the door to welcome President and Mrs. McKay.

And it was Radio Station KSL's John Barlow with microphone interviewing, for tape recording, as many persons as he could buttonhole.

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The Pioneer Memorial Theater was excited people crowding the Green Room during the intermission for a “look” to see who was in attendance and a complimentary cup of grape punch.

It was Maurice Abravanel, dashing in from the second rehearsal of the Utah Symphony, with a banana in one hand and a chocolate candy bar in the other for a snack supper – and giving me the bar for mine.

It was thick carpet threads on the shoes of everyone, so much so, that the men sitting on the stage looked as if they had walked through thick light-brown mud.

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The Pioneer Memorial Theater was an opening night of theatrical “fluffs” -- all to the dismay and consternation of everyone concerned.

It was, for example, the bare-headed “Ghost of Hamlet's Father” referring to his helmet . . . the gravedigger wearing a handsome gold wedding ring . . . the ultra modern fingernail polish on one of the actresses.

It was the bright hall lights that streamed into the theater every time a door opened . . . and it was the lights back of the sets that shined into the eyes of those on the front rows.

It was the cold air conditioning that sent a number of persons home during the intermission . . . and it was Dr. Alexander Schreiner coming in with coats for Mrs. Schreiner and their daughter, Julie.

It was “canned music” that one expected to be “live” for an occasion of such importance.

The Pioneer Memorial Theater was politeness that started with polite parking lot attendants, and carried through with courteous ushers and cloak-check girls.

It was the warm friendliness of people who moved aside for others to make their way.

And it was the prideful excitement of Mrs. C. Lowell Lees as she sat in the dress circle with her son, Taylor, and daughter-in-law, Janet.

The Pioneer Memorial Theater dedication was, indeed, a wonderful and historic occasion, one that is not likely ever to be forgotten by anyone present.