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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!”
When I look back on the experiences I have had at Hale Centre Theatre, (and let’s be honest I can count them on one hand because I am new), all that comes to mind is LOVE and FAMILY. What a blast it is to be in another show at HCT! The people that I get to work with everyday are so awesome!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Brad Lever. I have been involved in just a few productions at Hale Centre Theatre. As a learning actor, and new to the stage, I was featured in Phantom as a singing waiter back in 2009. Recently, I was heard in Hale’s powerful and heart wrenching production of A Tale of Two Cities, as the dying Young Man/ Gravedigger/ Town Cryer/ and Ensemble member. Currently, I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Joseph! Another fun part of the theatre is being a part of the magic! I have also been seen “behind the scenes” working on the technical floor crew for the classic A Christmas Carol, and as a spot light operator for the musical operetta Pirates of Penzance. It’s a blast and I love being a part of the stories in any way that I can!
Hale Centre Theatre feels like family to me. I definitely feel like I live at the theatre sometimes. From the incredible technical staff down to the performers, we interact as a family all working together like a “functional” family should. As an actor, I know that I cannot put on an amazing show without my tech buddies or my acting comrades. We work in harmony to stun audiences with high quality storytelling, beautiful scenery and awe inspiring set designs, lights and immaculate sound. I like to think that we are a team at Hale Centre Theatre, and you can tell by the quality of the productions that are produced that it certainly appears to the audience that we are just that. There are not many forces that can get in the way of a strong loving family. Not even a frozen stage or set piece! Everyone contributes and shares their unique talents and gifts. It truly is a sight to see and be a part of. Every night is full of laughter and more often than not, off-the-wall excitement to perform another show, for another great audience! Being “new” to the theatre is inspiring. I get to know and learn from some of the best people, with some of the biggest hearts in town…
Receiving the opportunity to play “Joseph” has been such a great experience for me! “Joseph” was my first lead about 2 years ago, and is even more thrilling to me now. What a story! What a cast! What a production crew! And what a stage! I love to play characters in stories that go through many stages and emotional changes. It is life. We all go through ups and downs and I am grateful for the wide variety of emotions we humans get to experience every day. Joseph of Egypt is special to me. He is someone I look up to. He never lost hope in his darkest hour. He always held true to his values and had faith in something greater, greater in value and of importance. He loved what he was taught about heaven by his father and strived to do his best. Was he perfect? No. None of us are perfect. That’s silly. But! He had something a lot of us forget about, and I think that is trust. He trusted in the truths about himself. He trusted in the core nature of who he was and he trusted that he was loved no matter what, by someone, and that things were about to get a lot better! Sure enough as he held true to his trust in heaven and himself, things in his life did get better. We can all learn from that! It’s a simple story really. I know I am learning the “trust principle” each day as I try and figure out my life. By living life with that trust, and communicating his hard times and discouragements to a higher power, Joseph served his brothers and every one that he came in contact with. And by serving, Joseph was loved….and hated. But he continued on! Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a great story for each of us. I hope the audiences that come to see the show will have a lot of fun, but also take away the messages that are included amidst the fun, lights, color and story. I can’t imagine what Joseph went through, but I do know that there is always hope for a brighter day. I know that great things are in store for everyone that loves and serves another without pre-judgment or selfish desires–For we are all children of the family of Israel.
Come see Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Hale Centre Theatre. Bring your kids, families and bring your girlfriends or boyfriends! It’s a lot of fun and so worth the ticket! We have some seriously talented people in both casts and a lot of talented people backstage putting together the magic!
And remember, when you applaud; applaud for everyone involved in the production! We (actors) could not put on a show without every team member!!!!
Sincerely with thanks,
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