Egyptian Theatre will celebrate 35th milestone in style
October 7, 2016
The Egyptian Theatre has been a Park City landmark since it opened on Christmas in 1926.
Since then, the theatre has survived fires and renovations and rebrandings, according to manager Randy Barton.
"In the beginning, it was strictly a movie theater," said theatre manager Randy Barton. "Throughout time, it has been called the LuAnn, the Egyptian … and was also known as the Silver Wheel Theater in the 1970s."
In 1981, the Egyptian Theatre was purchased by Mrs. Fields Cookies, who rented it to the Park City Players.
"Somehow Mrs. Fields Cookies was talked into buying the theater and did a little remodeling and rented it to our group of actors," Barton said. "On Oct. 10, 1981, we officially opened the Egyptian Theatre as Park City Performances, and we've been programming the stage every since."
This week, the Egyptian Theatre will honor this event and celebrate the 35th anniversary of its 1981 reopening with a string of performances that include Odyssey Dance Theatre's final 2016 weekend run of its Halloween production of "Thriller," a concert by the band Firefall on Oct. 10, a night of video with "Follies Rewind" on Oct. 11 and 12, and flamenco guitarist Ottmar Leibert on Oct. 13-15.
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"We will have something on stage every night until Oct. 15," Barton said. "This is a big moment because our nonprofit has struggled throughout the years, but the perseverance of artistically passionate people is why we exist today."
When Mrs. Fields Cookies first rented the facility to the Park City Players, the acting troupe didn't have a home.
"We had been acting around town at the Kimball Art Center and at the former Holiday Inn, which is now the Doubletree Yarrow Hotel, and the Prospector Theatre," Barton said. "So, to have a place where we could perform for an extended time was great for us.
"We were basically a theatre company and did live theater and the Egyptian was the social gathering place," Barton said. "Everybody in town was in one show or another."
That happiness ended when Mrs. Field's Cookies fell on hard times.
"The building was lost and ownership was taken over by the federal government through the Resolution Trust Coproration for about eight years," Barton said.
That's when a group of patrons formed a nonprofit called Save Our Stage, co-founded by Rick Rogers and the late JoAnn Krajeski.
Other notable players included Don Gomes and Teri Orr, now the executive director of the Park City Institute.
"There were other very important players who also worked to get this going, including Ann MacQuoid, who was the first board president," Barton said. "They raised money and ended up buying the theatre from the government. It was remodeled and became our stable home."
Today the Egyptian Theatre is programmed on a different model.
"We're no longer a theatre company that produces six to eight musicals every year, for six weeks at a time," Barton said. "We found that wasn't sustainable in a small town, so what we do now is programming something different every week. And that, we found, is sustainable."
Barton is both proud and humble that the Egyptian Theatre can celebrate 35 years and knows this milestone couldn't have happened without help.
"We are grateful for the support we received through the community through donations and through our Pharaoh Club," he said.
The Egyptian Theatre will celebrate its 35th milestone this week with a string of performances. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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