Sally Dietlein majored in speech communication and minored in theater while a student at Brigham Young University in the 70s, and her career plan was to teach school. But as part of the university’s performing group the “Young Ambassadors,” she met her future husband, Mark Dietlein. And her career path took a turn she never expected.
Ms. Dietlein is the executive producer and co-owner, along with Mr. Dietlein, of Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. “Mark’s grandparents were Ruth and Nathan Hale,” she says. “They started a community theatre after moving from Utah to Glendale, California, where Grandpa Hale wanted to break in to acting. Their story is pretty well documented—how they opened a new Hale Centre Theatre here in South Salt Lake in the ‘70s, performing original plays, and how audiences grew and Hale continued to expand.”
Mr. Dietlein and Ms. Dietlein took over operations when Mr. Dietlein’s grandparents left on an LDS mission in the early 1980s. Needing a larger space, they worked with West Valley City to construct an $8.2 million theater near the Maverik Center. It still wasn’t enough. “We knew about 2008 that we needed to grow and find a solution,” Ms. Dietlein recalls. “We had 15 different entities approach us about partnering up—cities, companies, etc. Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan stated that he felt ‘to make a city feel whole, you have to have arts.’ He recognized that arts can breathe nightlife into an area. He pledged the city’s support, so we embarked on a plan to build a new theater in Sandy.”
It led to many sleepless nights, as the Dietleins took on an incredible task—raising the $81 million it would take to build their state-of-the-art facility. Sandy City bonded for $43 million, which the Dietleins will pay off, and the couple and their team raised the rest. It was constructed on a design-build fast track that Ms. Dietlein calls “a miracle.” The smaller Jewel Box theatre opened last September and the Center Stage theatre opened in December. Between evening performances throughout the year and matinee performances during the holidays, the theatres can draw close to 4,000 patrons a day. Ms. Dietlein says projections show 500,000 people will attend Hale Centre productions this year.
“It’s an incredible creation,” Ms. Dietlein says. “We have $20 million in technology in the Center Stage alone. We have a looping system that feeds directly into the ear for those who are hearing impaired. They tell us that for the first time in their lives, they can hear everything on stage. That is one of the things that makes me the happiest.”
Hale Centre Theatre has 28,000 season ticket holders, trailing in number only behind BYU and University of Utah football season ticket holders. It employs over 150 artisans and 450-500 other actors and production team members. “It has truly been great to see the hopes and dreams of the community, as well as ours, come together,” she says. “It’s what we all asked for, and we all worked to make it happen. We’re thrilled with how it has come together.”