Cache Valley Music, Theater Buffs Enjoy Shows in New and Historic Venues

By Joe Morris on May 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm EST
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Sometimes getting there is half the fun. That’s certainly the case with the Cache Valley’s perfor­mance venues, which are as much of an attraction as the action on the stages.

The area’s music and theater venues range from the historic to the newly opened, and cater to a wide range of audiences.

That’s certainly the case at the Caine Lyric Theatre, a 364-seat, jewel-box proscenium theater that opened in 1913 and underwent an extensive restoration and expansion in 2000. One of four venues oper­ated by the Caine School of the Arts at Utah State University, the theater sees more than 100 days of use a year, says Jarrod Larsen, director of production services for the Caine School.

“We’re open to as much as we can do there,” Larsen says. “The Lyric is beautiful, and we like for people to enjoy it.”

The theater is home to the Old Lyric Repertory Company, a professional theater group founded in 1967. Under the direction of artistic director Colin Johnson, the company serves as a training ground for USU’s theater students and produces four summer shows.

In addition to the Lyric, the Caine School also operates the Chase Fine Arts Center, Kent Concert Hall, Morgan Theater and the new Manon Caine Russell and Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall on campus. The $10.5 million hall seats 420 and is the first project in the expansion of the School of Arts.

For further proof that Cache Valley residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to performance halls, look no further than the holdings of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts, which include the Ellen Eccles Theatre, Thatcher-Young Mansion and Bullen Center.

The Eccles, built as the Capitol Theatre in the 1920s, suffered the ravages of time but then underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation which wrapped up in 1993. Since then, the theater has become home to several regional arts groups, including the Utah Festival Opera, Cache Valley Civic Ballet, Cache Regional Theatre and Valley Dance Ensemble.

The theater is the benefici­ary of twin endowments, which should ensure its continued success, says Amanda Castillo, marketing director.

“The endowments have been created to help preserve the theater’s funding,” Castillo says. “The city is putting money into an endowment over a three-year period, and we also have had a private donor create an endowment as well. This will allow us to pull out the proceeds when we need the money, and not rely on public funding.”

A fiscally secure venue is good news for the Utah Festival Opera, one of the Eccles’ major tenants, says Michael Ballam, general director.

“The people of Cache Valley have rallied behind the restoration and operation of the Eccles more than any other enterprise in my lifetime recollection,” Ballam says.

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