To say Mark Dietlein is passionate about theater is a gross understatement. His eyes light up when he talks about anything to do with theater. If you mention lighting, music or costumes, you can hear the excitement in his voice. 

Mark is the oldest grandson of Ruth and Nathan Hale, the third generation to carry on the Hale legacy. Mark started in the theater business by selling concessions, cleaning the theater, stage managing and doing anything to help the family business succeed. The Hale family puts its whole heart and soul into the theater and they have built an impressive family business over 31 years. 

The Hale Centre Theatre will open its doors at its new Sandy location in the fall of 2017. 

Tell me about your grandparents and how they got the family business started.

“When they were newlyweds, their bishop asked them to put on a play. When they selected one, they said the royalty would be $25. That was more money than they had to spend on the social program for the entire year and he encouraged her to write a play. She found out she had a knack for writing. She and Grandpa were a team and over the years they wrote and published over 80 plays. They also put together a troupe and they traveled up and down the Wasatch Front doing shows.”

What was your involvement as a child in the family business?

“For me, it was on-the-job training. From the time I was a little kid, dinnertime conversations centered around what was happening at the theater. Grandma reminded us that the theater was like a family farm. Instead of feeding cows and cutting, I was a janitor at 8 and stage managing when I was 11. Any roles that needed kids, I was also recruited for.

”Why did you start the Hale Centre Theatre?

“I developed a love for theater from the time I was a little kid. My wife, Sally, and I decided we wanted to carry on the family legacy. We found an old reception center and that was our foray into the theater business. Soon after, my grandparents discovered retirement didn’t agree with them, and Grandma said if they didn’t get back into the business they might not be around next year. It didn’t take long for word to spread that Ruth and Nathan Hale had started a new theater in Salt Lake.”

Why did you decide to build a new theater?

“Our shows have sold out 99.5 percent of the time since 2004. We’ve been proud to call West Valley City our home for almost 19 years, and we’ve enjoyed tremendous support of the patrons. However, if we’re going to meet the demands of our patrons, we needed to look at another facility. The best option our board of directors came up with was to link arms with Sandy City. Our new theater is in a phenomenal spot adjacent to I-15. 

How will the new theater affect ticket prices?

“Grandma and Grandpa instilled in us that the Hale Center Theater is a family theater at family pricing. We play to audiences 5 to 105.We wanted to make sure the theater remained a non-elitist activity. 

“Our current ticket prices range between $32 to $35. We’re thrilled to be able to continue maintaining that family affordability.”

What are some of the amenities of the new theater?

“There is a large five-story parking structure that will be a beautiful use of shared space. During the day, the parking structure is used by adjacent businesses and at night we will be able to use it.” 

“The theater will include the latest and greatest stage technology that does not exist anywhere in the world. We’ll have a myriad of different stage lifts that go up and down in the center stage. It will allow us to make things life-like and add more magic, and to create shows that are more seamless.”

How much will the new theater cost?

“Anywhere between $65 millionand $70 million. Sandy City has been an incredible partner. They’ve bonded for $43 million, and the theater is responsible to come up with the balance. To date, we have $19 million in cash and pledges we’re very grateful for. We are still pursuing another $10 million to make our dream a reality.”

Tell me about your fundraising.

“We recently started our patron public capital campaign drive. Out of the 45,000 households who attend Hale Centre Theatre on a regular basis, we’re hopeful that many of those same individuals will share in the vision of this new building and contribute. We’re accepting a gift of any size.”