Through recent years the Church-owned Promised Valley Playhouse in Salt Lake City has walked a unique path.
Half of the time the playhouse is a community theater, used by local stakes for amateur productions. The rest of the year, it becomes a professional playhouse, where professional productions, with professional actors and actresses, are produced.Blaine Jay Smith, new general manager of the playhouse, thinks that his biggest challenge will be to blend these roles together. The theater, he said, plays the role of an "outstanding professional-caliber theater-house" half the year and a support role for LDS stakes the other half.
Because of this, he explained, the general public is never quite sure what kind of production will be seen at the theater.
"I want to make
the playhouseT visible to the general public, understandable to the general public, accessible to the general public," said Brother Smith, a member of the Shadowbrook Ward, Kaysville Utah South Stake. "We want to raise people's expectations of what they see here."
The playhouse provides technical support to stake groups putting on stake productions six months a year - and helps them produce amateur productions of professional quality.
In late November and December "The Gift of Christmas," starring renowned performer Robert Peterson is presented at the playhouse. Next summer it will produce, "Barefoot to Zion," an original production written for the playhouse.
"Rather than making any attempt to be a traditional theater and be perceived by the public as such, we want to, with our heads held high, include in our visual image that we are owned by the Church," Brother Smith said.
All the productions put on at the playhouse "will always be family-oriented," he explained.
Brother Smith said it is his hope to dramatically expand the number of stakes that can use the facility during the year. This can be accomplished, he said, by having stakes coordinate their productions and running them back to back, without changing the stage props and scenery.
"For example, four stakes could all put on `Fiddler on the Roof,' he explained. That would allow us to help four stakes in a month, instead of one stake a month."
He added that he will also need to establish an expanded relationship between local stake presidents and the theater. "There are a number of stake presidents who don't even know the theater is available," he said.
Finally, he would like more of the general public to realize that twice a year they can attend, at Promised Valley Playhouse, professional productions put on by some of the "finest talent found on [Utah's] Wasatch Front."