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Pioneer Theatre pays homage to late producer Keith Engar

Green room renamed after theater legend

There's a whole new generation of actors who may not have a clue about the late Keith M. Engar and how far-reaching his legacy is for Utahns.

Pioneer Theatre Company — which owes its Equity professional status to the groundwork that Engar established — has rectified things by formally dedicating its former green room as "the Engar Room."

Almost every theater has its own version of a green room — a place where actors congregate when they're not onstage, usually between scenes. They can relax or ponder their next lines.

"Actors will be coming into this room and asking, 'Who is this Keith Engar?' — and now they'll know," said PTC artistic director Charles Morey during a dedicatory program on Monday afternoon.

Engar died in 1994 at the age of 70. He had served as Pioneer Theatre Company's executive producer from 1964 to 1988. But his influence spread beyond PTC, a legacy that includes:

Creating KUED and KUER, the University of Utah's public-television and public-radio stations.

Hiring actor Robert Peterson. "And we all know how well that went," said Richard Engar, one of Keith's sons.

Hiring actors Max Robinson and Anne Stewart Mark, resident scenery designer George Maxwell, music director James Prigmore, production manager David Deike and box office treasurer Colleen Lindstrom — all of whom are still involved with PTC today.

Organizing the LDS Church's first church-activities committee.

Was chairman of the U. Theater Department, 1964-81.

Was instrumental in having the LDS Church purchase the empty Lyric Theater on State Street, to be turned into the Promised Valley Playhouse. (Engar directed "Promised Valley" productions there for five years.)

Organizing the U. Classic Greek Theatre Festival (now in its 35th year) and directing the first production.

Writing several LDS Church productions, including "All in Favor" (1967) and "Right Honorable Saint," about the life of Karl G. Maeser (1975).

Morey said there is a song in "Sunday in the Park With George" that says there are only two things of any importance we can leave in this world — children and art. "What Keith Engar left were his wonderful children and an institution capable of creating great art.

"It is an enormous legacy."