ELLEN ECCLES THEATRE
The Capitol Theatre was the principal venue and auditorium for Cache Valley performing arts for 30 years, but in the late 1950's live performances ceased and the theatre was allowed to deteriorate. The stage was empty and the orchestra pit silent. Lights dimmed in the auditorium and dirt and debris collected in the dressing rooms. The ornate murals and gilded plaster carvings were covered with burlaps; the frescoes and moldings were covered with a shroud of green paint. In 1988 the theatre was threatened with demolition.
The proposed plan came to the attention of Michael Ballam. Having sung in many of the most beautiful opera houses in the world, he knew the old Capitol Theatre, with its elaborate neoclassical ornamentation and superb acoustics, was a match for the least of them. He approached the owner, Eugene Needham, who generously donated the structure to the City of Logan.*
Once restoration efforts began, Ballam spearheaded the $6.5 million fund-raising effort. Hundreds of volunteers also caught the vision, donating thousands of hours of labor shoveling out the 15 tons of refuse that had accumulated backstage, uncovering the beautiful murals and decorative plaster carvings, and generally reversing decades of neglect. The stage and backstage were renovated to state-of-the-art theatrical capability and the orchestra pit was enlarged.
The Capitol's intricate neoclassical architecture was restored, and a piece of Utah history was preserved. Despite years of disregard and decay, a long-forgotten structure reclaimed its glory. The 1100 seat theatre reopened January 8, 1993 bearing the name of the daughter of Utah pioneers, wife of Utah industrialist David Eccles and one of Logan's prominent citizens, Ellen Eccles.
*The Ellen Eccles Theatre is owned by the City of Logan and managed and operated by Cache Valley Center for the Arts, an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Built in 1900, the Dansante Building has played a central role in the social life of the Cache Valley community for a century. For decades it served as the valley's premiere dance hall, hosting as many as 3,000 people on major holidays. If its walls could speak, they would echo laughter, music, and romance. Additionally, it has been used for a miniature golf course, roller rink, and clothes manufacturer. After years of decline, the proud old building was purchased by Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre. Thanks to generous anonymous donors, it has been fully renovated and expanded to a 45,000 sq. ft. facility that now houses the company's administrative offices, a 124-seat recital hall, practice rooms, rehearsal halls, and wig & makeup, prop, costume, and scene shops.
The final phase of renovation is underway in Utah Festival's historic Utah Theatre, with completion anticipated by spring 2015 thanks to major donations from Larry H. & Gail Miller, the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the State of Utah, John & Nancy Schellkopf and others. The restoration will transform a run-down movie house into a 350-seat, state of the art facility dedicated to creativity and excellence in the performing arts.
The Utah will become a high-class venue year-round for theatrical and musical productions as well as for classic movies. It will also be home of a magnificent Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, which will provide the rare opportunity for classic silent movies to be screened with live organ accompaniment. The Utah will also feature concerts, chamber operas, lectures, musicals, plays, receptions and more, in addition to being home to the Utah Festival Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Academy and Opera by Children.
The renovation includes a fully expanded stage, fly loft, new lighting and sound systems, orchestra pit and organ chamber, rehearsal space, dressing rooms and rooftop garden. In addition, seismic renovation and relocation of power lines will enhance the property.