History of The Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City

[ Music ]>>My name is Seth Miller, and I’m the Interim Director
of The Grand Theater. I started with The
Grand in April of 2007, so about eight years that I’ve
been here with the theater. The Grand was originally
built with South High back in the early 30’s and
remains pretty much the same as it was then as far as
the structure of the space. There’s been, you know,
obviously, upgrades as far as the electrical system,
and, and things like that. But the basic structure
and architecture of the theater is just
the same as it was when the building first
opened back in the early 30’s.>>I’m Jay Williams, I’m
an Associate Professor of Communication
here at the college. For a lot of years, I was
a college administrator, and then I moved over
to full-time teaching. We were talking to Pat
Davis, because he worked for the college in a
different department, you know, unrelated to the theater, because there’s no theater
department, no music department, no fine arts of any kind. She says, why don’t
we do a show? Let’s do a show,
we’ll get everybody to volunteer to be in it. We’ll have all volunteers
directing and doing everything else, all the ticket takers will
be volunteers, let’s do that, and maybe we can raise some
money and people will come to the college and they’ll
say, wow, this is, you know, this is kind of a neat
thing that they’re doing. And so, I went back to the
president’s cabinet meeting and I kind of told them,
I said let’s do this. And I don’t think any of the
vice presidents wanted to do it. But Frank Budd did. He thought that it
was a fun idea. And so when the president’s
behind something, he kind of finds ways
of getting the money and dedicating the personnel,
so, I was selling the tickets in this, in the booth and I
was raking the grass before the shows and we built a
little stage out there and we did Promised Valley. And so about the same time
they renovated this auditorium, or the, The Grand Theater,
and there were people on the president’s cabinet
who wanted to just make it into classrooms, kind of tear out the interior,
build a classroom. It would have been a
lot of classroom, okay? But Frank Budd said, no, we’re
going to put on some play. We couldn’t do it
any other way except with the community theater,
so that’s how we started. So, kind of an interesting
thing. We did it so that people
could come to the college, have a good experience,
learn something about it. Didn’t take us very long
until the Pioneer Theater at the U was quite concerned, because we started selling a
whole lot of season tickets. And they were all coming
from the Pioneer Theater. At the time they were doing
all this experimental stuff and nobody liked it very much. So we decided, we’ll just do the
opposite, we’ll only run plays that people like a lot! You know? Musical. And some people would probably
not like doing that, but we did, and so we just went one
musical after another, and, and we’d just start
filling the house.>>Richard Scott, Executive
Director of The Grand Theater and Cultural Programming here
at Salt Lake Community College. So I, I’ve been here at
Salt Lake Community College in The Grand Theater since 2001,
and when I was hired, it was, you know, The Grand
Theater sits on the campus of a community college. We think the programming
should reflect that. Go do it. So that’s
what we began to do. So I think that our philosophy
at the, at The Grand Theater in terms of access and,
and ongoing learning and shared experiences
and a mentoring kind of concept parallels very, very well with Salt Lake
Community College’s vision and, and mission of open access
and continue educational. So I think really it was a
great, great blend of the two and I look really forward
to seeing that continue to grow and manifest itself. I think The Grand is unique
because it is many things. I mean, we are a
community theater company. We have artistic productions
that we produce, pick, generate. We produce concerts,
we produce lectures, we produce…we have
meetings with, with, both from Salt Lake Community
College and from the community. We’ve, we’ve done debates. We’re, we’re really a
community center, local, and with an artistic
company in residence. So that makes us a
little different. Oh, and always the best stories
are here in this space, right? The best stories,
there used to be, way up behind me is the upper
floor and they used to talk about how there was
always mysterious sounds and mysterious things going on
up there during hall assemblies, because nobody could
see up there, they couldn’t identify them,
so, all the kids were playing up there and we’ve had a
couple of instances where it’s, it’s been great, where
they, they’ve had reunions and I’ve had them come through
and they tell stories about it.>>That was a pretty proud
moment to see the first show. It was pretty exciting, because
at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I was wondering, what am I going
to tell the audience [laughing]? You know, we’re going to show
up, we’re going to be ready, come back tomorrow, you know? I don’t know what
we would have done.>>So if you’ve never
been to The Grand, come and see how great this
theater is and what it’s all about and what you’ve
been missing. [ Music ]

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