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As many of you already know, Richard Wilkins passed away Monday, November 26th. Richard is best known in theater circles for his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in our annual production of A Christmas Carol. This year would have been his 28th consecutive year playing the beloved character. In 1985, Richard was 32 years old when Ruth and Nathan Hale trusted him with the iconic role for the first time. Over the years Richard’s wife and children joined him on stage, as shown in this cast photo from the 1987 production of A Christmas Carol.
Though he may be best known for his role as Scrooge, Richard played many other roles in shows such as The Curious Savage in 1988 and 1991, Dear Ruth and I Forgot to Remember in 1989, and our most recent production of Oliver!. He was also a member of our National Advisory Board for many years.
This year’s production of A Christmas Carol is dedicated to Richard. Mark and Sally Dietlein wrote this dedication to him for the upcoming playbill:
MEMORIES OF RICHARD…
December 12, 1952 – November 26, 2012
In the winter of 1985, Ruth and Nathan Hale were sitting in church when a tall, articulate man stood to speak. Impressed by his presentation, Grandma and Grandpa Hale asked the man if he was an actor. When Ruth and Nathan moved to Utah from Glendale, California to open a new theatre in South Salt Lake, one of their greatest concerns was to find good actors. It had been easy in the LA area because so many were trying to break into theatre and the movies that there was a plethora of seasoned and budding actors to choose from. Utah was an unknown. But this man at the pulpit had promise. Grandma and Grandpa knew it.
The man told them that he had done a little acting and that he liked it very much. Grandma asked him if he would play a part in a religious play she and Grandpa had written. Yes was the answer. He then played a role in the first comedy produced at the new South Salt Lake, Hale Centre Theatre in July, 1985. Richard Wilkins’ long history on the Hale’s stages had begun. But the best was yet to come…
When Ruth and Nathan opened their first theatre in California, they produced year round. Audiences loved what they brought to the community and came in droves – excepting at Christmastime. They could not seem to get audiences to come during the holiday season. They tried everything – different productions – increased marketing. It didn’t work. In the early 60’s, a long time actor friend asked The Hales if he could write an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ to see if that would please patrons. Like magic, audiences came. And came. So there was no question that the new theatre in South Salt Lake would produce ‘A Christmas Carol’. But who would play the all-important role of Ebenezer Scrooge? A 32 year old Richard Wilkins said he would like to audition. He was too young but such a good read that Grandma and Grandpa Hale told him that he better get really good at make-up and on he went, Christmas 1985. Like magic, audiences came. And came. They loved the story. They were mesmerized by Richard.
Being single cast with Richard for many Christmases made us family. The memories are rich. Richard never gave anything but 150% – and he wanted it from all of us. He literally gave his all with every performance. The old theatre was so small that a hard-working, profusely perspiring, Richard would sprinkle sweat as he spun about. Oddly, the patrons thought it sense-around fun. Once our acapella Christmas Choir came out slightly – maybe more than slightly – off key. His commanding glance on stage helped us not to do that again. ‘Christmas Carol’ was not to be toyed with. ‘A Christmas Carol’ was important.
We performed with his wonderful wife, Melany and their four terrific kids – Brooke, Brinton, Claire and Rex. They performed with our kids. It was the way we could make certain that we knew where every child was while their crazy parents were on stage.
As years passed, less make-up was needed. Less affected movement. Richard was growing into Scrooge. Although Richard’s International fame as an attorney continued to become more and more demanding, Richard came back year after year, season after season. Why?
Charles Dickens’ little Christmas song rang true to Richard. It was all about loving and protecting children. It was all about being responsible for our fellow men. It was definitely all about thinking less of one’s self and more of everyone else. And Richard was that. All of that.
Richard wrote his own adaptation which he continued to tweak to become more and more genuine to the original story. All the carols had to be absolutely of the time. He became a Dickens’ aficionado. He was a Dickens’ perfectionist.
In working to find just the right music, he found a little known tune of the era … ‘I Don’t Know Anything’. It seemed peculiar at the time that he would pick such an odd, un Christmas-like, song. Yet Scrooge sang it with glee as he found himself back in his own bedroom after 4 Ghosts and a long night of redemption…
I don’t know anything…
I never did know anything.
But now I know that I don’t know
All in a Winter’s morning.
Then it dawned on us. Scrooge’s redemption had become real. He had wiped away his old stingy ways and become new – as a child – ready to learn joy, love, giving and compassion.
Thank you, Richard Wilkins, for 28 years of helping us – along with hundreds of thousands of patrons – learn through your marvelous portrayal of the old curmudgeon, Scrooge. To change our hearts. To become new. To become better.
Our hearts will always sing the song of ‘The Carol’ because of you.
Mark and Sally Dietlein
Executive Producers and Co-Founders
Hale Centre Theatre
Richard was not only an actor, but a mentor, brother, advocate and friend. He will live on in our hearts forever and will be sorely missed.
Richard, thank you for teaching us so many valuable lessons! – With love from your Hale Centre Theatre family
“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
On Wednesday, September 19th we held our 2nd Annual Blogger Social. We invited several local bloggers to attend this event and then let them invite a few of their readers to join us. After a pre-show reception where the bloggers and readers were able to mingle, they all attended a performance of 9 to 5 the Musical.
The bloggers arrived early for a backstage tour. First, we walked through the rehearsal areas.
We visited the kitchen/green room, where the actors spend their time when they aren’t on stage.
After spending some time on stage and in the costume shop, the bloggers were able to meet their readers at the pre-show reception. Executive Producer Sally Dietlein and 9 to 5 Director John Sweeney spoke to the group about HCT and the show.
Thank you to all those who attended! We hope you had a fabulous time at the show!
For more photos from the event, visit our Flickr site.
There aren’t very many community theatres who can say that they have hosted the U.S. Premiere of a musical that is headed to Broadway. All of us here at HCT are humbled and grateful that we have been given this opportunity. Zorro the Musical has been seen all over the world, including London, Paris, Shanghai, Seoul and Moscow and now in Salt Lake City.
A special gala was held to celebrate the opening of our production. John Gertz, who holds the rights to all Zorro properties, was in attendance. One of our rehearsal rooms was transformed with candles, lanterns and plenty of red roses. After the performance that evening, the cast was able to meet with John Gertz.
Another opportunity that we have during this production is to offer 8 performances free-of-charge to students from the Intermountain West. Thanks to generous sponsors for making this possible and for the cast taking time away from work or school to give many of these students their first live theatre experience. All together about 5000 students will attend. It is amazing to witness the reactions they give the cast! It sounds more like a rock concert than a theatre performance.
The story of Zorro has something for everyone: sword fighting, romance, tyranny, flamenco dancing, and great music. Diego and Ramon are brothers whose father is the Alcalde (Mayor) of the Spanish settlement of Los Angeles in 1805. Diego, the younger brother, is chosen to succeed his father as the community’s leader and runs away to Spain to escape responsibility. Meanwhile, his jealous brother Ramon takes over and institutes martial law in the pueblo, taking away most of the rights of the citizens there. When Diego returns, with a band of gypsies in tow, he creates Zorro as a cover to help bring peace back to the pueblo.
Tickets are going fast and you don’t want to miss this unique musical theatre experience!
Take some Sherlock Holmes, add a little bit of Shakespeare, throw in a murder and stage it at the famed Gillette Castle and what do you have? Ken Ludwig’s newest play “The Game’s Afoot”.
William Gillette was an actor, inventor and playwright in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries who wrote a play about Sherlock Holmes and subsequently played the title role in 1300 performances over a span of 30 years. During this time, Gillette purchased some property on a hillside near the Connecticut River and built a castle on it. This castle, now known as the Gillette Castle, sets the stage for our current production. Many facets of the character are reminiscent of Gillette himself. He invented a number of gadgets especially when it came to stage effects. He also helped shape the image of the Sherlock Holmes we know today. He introduced the curved pipe as well as the now famous deerstalker cap and trench coat.
Most of the characters are actor friends of Gillette’s who often quote lines from Shakespeare as if it was as normal as talking about the weather. This is where the play gets it’s title “The Game’s Afoot”. In Henry V, during the famous speech that begins “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”, we find the lines “I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit…”
Does it get any more theatrical? A cast of actors, playing actors while quoting Shakespeare? I think not! But there is plenty of drama to go around in this new comedy.
Seating is currently limited to those who have season tickets, but you can call the box office to be added to the waiting list. Better yet, get some season tickets. “Zorro the Musical” is coming up next and you definitely don’t want to miss that!
I’m sure you thought that we had abandoned you. But we’re back. We had a wonderful run of My Fair Lady and today is closing day of our 27th annual production of A Christmas Carol. This has been a wonderful Christmas season for all of us here at Hale Centre Theatre.
Every year we have quite a few companies who hold their holiday parties at the Theatre and then go to the show. This year one of the parties was lucky enough to receive a visit from Santa Clause. Several cast members couldn’t resist getting a photo on Santa’s knee.
As we reflect on the past year and look forward to 2012, we want to express our sincerest appreciation to all of you who make what we do possible.
The 2012 season just might be our best yet and season tickets are still available. Just as a reminder, here is what we have in store for you…
Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (A Regional Premiere)
December 31 to February 4
Set in 1936 at the Gillette Castle located on the Connecticut River…friends and family gather and an hilarious, mystery thriller ignites! Is it the Inspector, the actor, the fiancé, the sweet young thing or the aged mother? Sherlock Holmes to the rescue! A playful way to giggle in the New Year!
Zorro the Musical (The U.S. Premiere)
February 15 to April 11
After critical acclaim in London’s West End, Moscow, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Rio…HCT is honored to bring this spectacular production to life on our stage! Fiery music by the famous ‘Gipsy Kings’…riveting adaptation and lyrics by Cameron and Clark…authentic Flamenco dancing, chilling Spanish Guitar and ahh!…the mystique of Zorro. Who lies beneath the mask? Romance, betrayal, redemption and mesmerizing magic (and a little bit of fire). Zorro has it all! A rare theatrical event!
Father of the Bride
April 17 to May 26
Back by popular demand…Late 1950s…boy meets girl…they fall in love…they get engaged…they plan the wedding…the wedding gets out of control. Father goes broke. But Father’s real loss is his little girl. Funny – even raucous – this pulls on the old heart strings. A comedic gem by Caroline Francke.
The Sound of Music
June 6 to August 4
For more than 50 years, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s masterful retelling of the Family Von Trapp singers has delighted audiences with its enduring story and glorious music… ‘Climb Every Mountain’, ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘My Favorite Things’…with HCT’s marvelously innovative direction, staging and costumes, this timeless musical soars anew.
9 to 5 the Musical (A Regional Premiere)
August 15 to September 29
Fresh from Broadway!…Dolly Parton’s sparkling musical comedy garnered 4 Tony nominations. A showstopper…plenty of sassy tunes and soul-filled ballads, plenty of laughter…plenty of heart! This full musical remake of the iconic movie is just plain fun…three unlikely friends conspire to take over the company. Music and lyrics by the irrepressible Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick.
October 10 to December 1
Fresh from its recent London revival, Charles Dickens’ treasured tale of the orphan boy sings with marvelous music…’Where is Love’, ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, …Lionel Bart’s book, music and lyrics stir the spirit and teach that each child is a gift and that love is the yearning of the soul. A true classic!
A Christmas Carol
December 8 to December 22
Your Christmas spirit will awaken as Ebenezer Scrooge visions his life as it was, as it is and as it would be – if not for a change of heart. A redemptive gift each Christmas, HCT’s nationally acclaimed musical adaptation by Wilkins and Bradford continues to joyously inspire. In its 28th year…Utah’s Christmas theatre tradition.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
and as Tiny Tim observed
“God Bless Us, Everyone!”
Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson are just your average guys who just happen to be in the French Riviera trying to con women out of their money. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs through July 23rd and will keep you laughing. Freddy is a small-time con man who happens into Lawrence’s territory and ends up getting tutored in the finer points of the con game by Lawrence himself.
Then comes a young woman, Christine Colgate, known as ‘The Soap Queen’ and Lawrence and Freddy eye her as their latest mark. From there hilarity ensues, but who is conning whom?
Don’t miss this show! Based on the 1988 movie starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Call the box office at 801-984-9000 or visit www.halecentretheatre.org for tickets.
As an Actor, it is always an interesting experience to re-visit a show you have done before. Repeating a show allows a new perspective into the writing, deeper understanding of the work, and if you play a different character, than the time before, it brings a whole new experience in general. I have been lucky enough to perform in several plays multiple times: The Scarlet Pimpernel (3), West Side Story (2), Bye Bye Birdie (2), A Christmas Carol (5), and Lucky Stiff (2). Each repeat performance has brought a different experience to me, and I have enjoyed these shows even more the next time around.
This will be my second time in The Hasty Heart, but my first time playing the role of “Tommy”. 15 years ago at the old Hale Theater on Main Street, I played “The Orderly” in my first semi-professional role, and my first of over 20 shows at Hale. I was 17 years old and full of excitement to be performing at a theater that my family had been season ticket holders to for years. My favorite memory was arriving at the theater early one day to get the beds made and props all ready and finding Grandma Hale asleep in one of the beds on stage. I quietly worked around her until hers was the last bed remaining to be made. As I approached her, she opened her eyes and said with a sly grin: “I tried that bed over there and it was too hard, and that bed over there was too soft, but this one was just right”. I replied: “Well the audience won’t start arriving for another 20 minutes Goldilocks, so you can sleep more if you need to”.
This production of The Hasty Heart has been a fascinating learning experience for me. Strong actors, a passionate director, and an amazing design crew have transformed this show into more than just a comedy with a lot of heart. This production is (like many Hale shows) ‘an experience’. The audience will be bathed in the feeling and the tone of the time, allowing them to feel through the characters on stage and experience their perspectives. I believe this show, in this venue, now, has more power than it has ever had since it was written. I believe if there was ever a chance for this work to change lives, it is now. What an honor and a privilege to be a part of something that can do that.
by Eric Armstrong, ‘Tommy’ in the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday cast of The Hasty Heart
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this play, it is written by John Patrick who also wrote The Curious Savage and Teahouse of the August Moon, both of which have been produced by HCT. The Hasty Heart is set in Burma during World War II and was inspired by John Patrick’s experiences serving in India and Burma during the war. It revolves around 6 men and their nurse at a allied military hospital. Every man is from a different part of the world (United States, Australia, New Zealand, England, Africa and Scotland) and have come to the hospital for different reasons, but allies soon become brothers.
In this play there is no shortage of humor and heart.
Now playing through May 28th.
Buy your tickets now!
www.halecentretheatre.org or 801-984-9000
We are extremely excited to announce our 2012 season of shows! There is a little something for everyone…
The Game’s Afoot
December 31, 2011 – February 4, 2012
A Utah Premiere!… by Tony Award winning author, Ken Ludwig – fresh from his pen to our stage! It’s 1936 in a country mansion on the Connecticut River. Family and friends gather … a hilarious, mystery thriller ignites! Is it the Inspector, the actor, the fiancé, the sweet young thing or the aged mother? Sherlock Holmes to the rescue! A playful way to giggle in the New Year!
ZORRO (A New Musical)
February 15 – April 11, 2012
A United States Premiere!… After critical acclaim in London’s West End, Moscow, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rio… HCT is honored to Bring ZORRO – the Musical to the U.S.! Fiery music by the famous ‘Gipsy Kings’ …riveting adaptation and lyrics by Cameron and Clark…authentic Flamenco dancing, chilling Spanish Guitar and ahh!…the mystique of ZORRO – who lies behind the mask? Romance, betrayal, redemption and mesmerizing magic. ZORRO has it all! A rare theatrical event!
Father of the Bride
April 17 – May 26, 2012
By Popular Demand… Late 1950′s…boy meets girl… they fall in love…they get engaged…they plan the wedding…the wedding gets out of control. Father goes broke. But Father’s real loss is his little girl. Funny – even raucous – but ‘good golly Miss Molly’ – this pulls on the old heart-strings. A comedic gem by Caroline Francke.
The Sound of Music
June 6 – August 4, 2012
Winner of 5 Tony Awards! For more than 50 years, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s masterful retelling of the Family Von Trapp singers has delighted audiences with its enduring story and glorious music… ‘Climb Every Mountain’, ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘My Favorite Things’ … With HCT’s marvelously innovative direction, staging and costumes, this timeless musical soars anew. This will sell out!
9 to 5 the Musical
August 15 – September 29, 2012
Fresh From Broadway!… Dolly Parton’s sparkling musical comedy garnered 4 Tony nominations. A showstopper…plenty of sassy tunes and soul-filled ballads…plenty of laughter…plenty of heart! This full musical remake of the iconic movie is just plain fun…three unlikely friends conspire to take over the company. Music and lyrics by the irrepressible, Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick. Reserve early!
October 10 – December 1, 2012
Winner of 3 Tony Awards!…Fresh from its recent London revival, Charles Dickens’ treasured tale of the orphan boy sings with marvelous music…’Where is Love’, ‘As Long As He Needs Me’,…Lionel Bart’s book, music and lyrics stir the spirit and teach that each child is a gift and that love is the yearning of the soul. Add HCT’s world-class staging, costumes and talent! A true classic – not to be missed!
A Christmas Carol
December 8 – December 22, 2012
Your Christmas spirit will awaken as Ebenezer Scrooge visions his life as it was, as it is and as it would be – if not for a change of heart. A redemptive gift each Christmas, HCT’s nationally acclaimed musical adaptation by Wilkins and Bradford continues to joyously inspire. In its 28th year…Utah’s Christmas theatre tradition. Merry Christmas!
Tickets go on sale to the general public on August 1st. Current season ticket holders have the opportunity to renew starting June 1st.
The Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities by Jill Santoriello has now come to an end. Though we say farewell to this production, it will linger in our hearts and minds forever. The experiences shared and memories made will keep it alive for all those who joined us on this journey. We had the privilege of having Jill Santoriello visit two times during the run of the show. What a joy it was to get to know her and learn more about her ‘baby’. She and those who came with her are now part of the Hale Centre Theatre family.
Here is what Jon Chironna, one of Jill’s guests wrote about his experience with HCT and Utah:
As the show was closing, we had the opportunity for one more “A Day in the Life…” by one of the actors. This is from Logan Bradford, who played the Young Man in the Monday, Wednesday, Friday cast.
You know, being a musical theater performer in a classical music world can be a little frustrating at times. After performing in Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute” this fall, I was a little ready for some good old, passionate musical theater. I have a few friends who have done shows at the Hale and I had always had this inkling to audition for a show, but for some reason or other, never got around to it. One Thursday, while at work, I thought of it and furtively visited the theater’s Web site to check on when auditions for their next show would be. I saw it would be “A Tale of Two Cities, the Musical,” and thought, “Dude. That’s a musical?” The auditions were just two days away and I had nothing prepared, so I thought, “hmmm….angsty French something or other,” and pulled out “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” for an audition song.
You know, auditioning is one of the most terrifying things in this business…nope, it is THE most terrifying part of this business. I hate it. But I went in there, did my 16 bars and somehow managed a callback. Callbacks were another intimidating experience, since I only knew a total of about five people there. The production team had called me back for Darnay, which was flattering, but I knew by my height and look (and lack of a low range) I wouldn’t be cast. I was sitting next to Ames Bell (Jerry Cruncher, TTS) and he mentioned a part for which he had been called back — a super high, belty, angsty vocal solo that not many people called back for it could really sing. He let me look at his sheet music and I knew I wanted it — and if there was a part in this show that I could really play, it was that one. I learned it quickly and sang it for the production team. While it by no means was perfect, I still felt pretty good about it as I left the theater to head home. Now, a confession — I knew absolutely nothing about the show before auditioning (I know, sacrilege). Of course, I had read the book ten years ago when I was in high school, but I remembered very little of it. But the callback told me a few very revealing things about both the show and theater. First, this show has real heart; it’s driven by passion, love, hatred and hurt. Any show that has that can really go places. Second, the performers at that callback went 400% in everything they did. I had never seen so many people dedicating their theatrical so concertedly like they were. I knew this production was going to be absolutely phenomenal; I had to be in it.
When the Production Assistant called me to tell me I had been cast as “Young Man,” I was honestly ecstatic beyond giddiness and sanity. I squealed to myself in my office at work and jumped up and down like an idiot for a good solid minute. And then the rehearsal process started. Working with our director, John Sweeney was such a wonderful experience. He made sure at literally every rehearsal that we knew he loved us so much, be it by action or by word; we just felt it from him. Marilyn Montgomery, our choreographer, was so very patient with us and molded us so we could give this show the dynamic personality it needed. And Anne Puzey was probably the best musical director I think I’ve ever worked with. She was so incredibly picky, but she always did it for the benefit of the show and so that we could do OUR best. Such a blessing.
As this show nears its end, I am sad not to be involved with something so moving and extraordinary. This show has the ability to change lives and teach them that people can change — that they can turn around their lives and truly make something of themselves. I am so grateful to be given this chance. A huge thank-you to this production team and Jill Santoriello; this has been a wonderfully memorable experience. All my love! - Logan
Thank you to all those who participated with Hale Centre Theatre in this amazing production – audience, cast, production team, tech crew, HCT staff, etc. We couldn’t do any of this without you!!
Now on to The Hasty Heart!