Electric Theater Center: ‘Very fine hall’ has grand opening downtown St. George

ST. GEORGE – When the Electric Theater first opened in September 1911, the Washington County News called it “a very fine hall.” Just over a century later, city officials hope to create that sentiment with the facility’s new iteration as the Electric Theater Center which had its grand opening and dedication Friday.

Though delayed a few hours as work crews moved to clear out of the center so tours could commence, some were still on hand when the doors opened and visitors began to arrive. Members of the community were treated to guided tours of the 18,000-square-foot facility that is meant to be a place that strengthens the city’s various arts groups and draws people downtown.

The whole purpose of this facility is to anchor the arts, to be an anchor to the downtown,” said Kent Perkins, St. George’s Leisure Services director.

The new center, which is comprised of the original Electrical Theater and what were once three adjacent buildings, will serve as a place to perpetuate the arts and play host to a plethora of arts, Perkins said.

Though the grand opening is underway, some work on the Electric Theater Center continues, St. George, Utah, Aug 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Though the grand opening is underway, some work on the Electric Theater Center continues, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The theater portion of the facility now has a raised stage where live performances can take place – and did during the center’s dedication. Among Friday’s grand opening entertainment were a vaudeville-style show featuring dancers from Westside Dance Studio; a barbershop quartet from the St. George Musical Theater; banjo-playing Jack Jepson; the Color Country Chorus; and the St. George Dixie Land Band.

In keeping with the tradition of the Electric Theater originally being a movie theater, visitors to the center will once again be able to enjoy watching movies of various kinds in the renovated theater that sports 306 seats.

Acting as the master of ceremonies for the dedication was Ernie Doose, executive director of the Roene B. DiFiore Center for the Arts and Education.

“It’s a huge contribution to the community, especially to support the arts,” Doose said prior to the dedication. “… St. George is really stepping up to the plate to support the arts.”

The western portion of the Electric Theater Center will feature a co-op gallery managed by the Southern Utah Arts Guild. Paul Jensen, a board member of the guild, said it will provide artists with a space to show off their work where they may not otherwise have the opportunity.

The guild currently leases the space where the art gallery will be featured, and is an example of how the center can be utilized by various arts groups and individuals. Space on three separate levels is available for art studios, administrative needs, storage or classrooms for workshops. The center also features open spaces where actors and dancers can practice and rehearse.

The renovated Electric Theater from the balcony view, St. George, Utah, Aug 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The renovated Electric Theater from the balcony view, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The city’s done a great job with this facility,” Jensen said. “It’s a fantastic building. It’s going to provide a lot of opportunity to a lot of artists.”

City of St. George Mayor Jon Pike called the Electric Theater Center a “labor of love” for a lot of people and was pleased to see it nearing completion.

“I think (the center) is going to be be extremely beneficial,” Pike said, speaking to the potential impact the center will have on strengthening the city’s arts groups, as well as drawing people to the downtown area.

Many people will be able to paint here, to perform here, to practice and rehearse here,” Pike said, “it’s just a fantastic place for people to enjoy performing and practicing. And of course the people that get to watch all that will be the recipients of the great talent that is all throughout our community.”

It is also a hope of city officials that the Electric Theater Center will be in constant use. Pike said city staff and arts groups will be working together to create and maintain a full calender of events.

“I look forward to having this stage full and busy,” Pike said during the dedication. “This is not meant to be a museum, it’s meant to be used.”

The city bought the Electric Theater and three adjacent buildings for $950,000 in February 2013. The renovation and reconstruction of the property cost an additional $3 million. It is yet another part of the city’s decades-long focus to keep the downtown area vibrant and ever-thriving.

City Manager Gary Esplin called the facility a new cornerstone of downtown where young and old can come together and share their talents with the community.

“That’s what this whole facility is about,” Esplin said. “It’s about giving opportunity to young people (and) old people, to display their talents … that we may not be able to see: To perform, to show their art, to dance.”

The grand opening of the Electric Theater Center continues Saturday at 1 p.m. with continuous performances until 7:30 p.m.

A barbershop quartet from the St. George Musical Theater performing at the Electric Theater Center's Grand Opening, St. George, Utah, Aug 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
A barbershop quartet from the St. George Musical Theater performing at the Electric Theater Center’s Grand Opening, St. George, Utah, Aug. 28, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Acts scheduled to perform include the Snow Canyon Jazz Band, Dixie Madrigals, Southwest Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Santa Clara Friends, Dixie High School Dance, Pine View High small ensembles, Leisure EEEE, Wooden Tantrum and Siva Pacifica.

Some performances may be subject to change.

At 8 p.m., the center returns to its roots as a movie theater with a showing of the 1979 film “The Electric Horseman.”

While functional, finishing touches on the Electric Theater Center will likely continue for the next two weeks.

“It’s a big day, but we’re not done yet,” Perkins said.

Event recap

  • When: Grand opening events continue Saturday, Aug. 29
    • Performances 1-7:30 p.m.
    • Showing of “The Electric Horseman” at 8 p.m.
  • Where: The Electric Theater Center, 68 E. Tabernacle St., St. George
  • Admission: Free to the public

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

 

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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27 Comments

  • sagemoon August 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I will go if they play the Rocky Horror Picture Show. St. George could use some fun like that.

  • Simone August 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’d be surprised if any one in 10 people who comprised that audience were under the age of 100. You know what? They should stick that confederate statue in there, I’m sure some of those audience members would love to go there, look at it and reminisce about what it was like to fight for their right to own black people and marry children just like their “prophet” Joseph Smith.

    • anybody home August 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Say wha?

    • AnotherReader August 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Once again Simon, you spout out falsehoods as you usually do. The audience pictures alone show you are not right in suggesting the attendees were mostly centenarians. I was there and you are wrong. As for the balance of your off-topic drivel, that seems par for your course.

      • Dexter August 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        You were never there you liar. you just said that so you could attack SIMONE. at least she speaks the truth. Which is more than I can say for you.

        • AnotherReader August 29, 2015 at 8:48 pm

          Wittle dexy, troll of off-topic drivel himself, has his knickers in a twist again. Liar eh? What would you know – trolls seldom leave their hole. Nice job on the remodeled theater St George. I hope it draws large crowds. Today’s performances were great too.

          • Dexter August 30, 2015 at 9:20 am

            LOL.! is that all you got.? Liar.!

    • Mike August 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      The woman showing off her plumber’s crack in the fifth photo is well under 100.

      • Mike August 30, 2015 at 8:21 am

        Gee Joyce, I don’t know why you changed the photo. If people aren’t ashamed to be dressed crudely in public, they shouldn’t be ashamed of it being pointed out.

        • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic August 30, 2015 at 11:02 am

          I didn’t? I’ll look.

          • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic August 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

            Restored, Mike – I’m not even sure it is what you crudely described.

          • Mike August 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm

            Sorry, tried my best not to be crude. Except for that, it is a good photo and a good article. Thanks SGNews.

  • abby August 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    It is absolutely mind numbing how every single article on this site becomes a platform to bash mormonism. May God bless you.

    • Simone August 29, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      The Mormon church admitted, via there own website, that Joseph Smith married a child as young as 14.

    • Lastdays August 30, 2015 at 8:44 am

      Oops, you forgot to say ” Simon says ” Go back 2 steps !

      • Dexter August 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

        Or you forgot to say. LASTDAYS is a looney.!

  • Dexter August 29, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    It is absolutely mind numbing how every single article on this site becomes a platform for ABBEY to use to spew her ignorance and hatred for anybody that posts a comment here. Oh by the way. ABBEY is so mentally disturbed that she thinks all the comments on this site are posted by the same person.. LOL.!

    • redrocker August 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      If your going to bash someone at least spell their name right! SMH

      • Bender August 30, 2015 at 1:24 am

        If you’re going to bash someone for bashing someone, at least spell “you’re” right.

    • Real Life August 30, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Right on “dexter”! I mean it’s not like you would post under many names, huh guess who’s parking dexter’s mommy.

      • Dexter August 30, 2015 at 10:57 pm

        Yawwwwwwwwwwn

        • Real Life August 30, 2015 at 11:30 pm

          Another snappy comeback. Get back on your meds before your mommy has to kick you out of the trailer.

          • Dexter August 31, 2015 at 8:30 am

            Yawwwwwwwwwwn

  • NotSoFast August 29, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Suggestion:
    I would hope a competent editor or staff member at St. George News would at lease read some of these comments once in a while and -86- some of these nut cases. Perhaps they could refer them to say, the Black Lives Matters web site to ramble on with their hate. (or maybe just take a good laxative).

  • Dexter August 30, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I would hope a competent editor or staff member at St George news would read some of the comments put out by NOTSOFAST and 86 some of his stupid comments. perhaps someone could refer NOTSOFAST to the black lives matter web Site. and ramble on with his hate and stupidity or maybe just take a good laxative.

    • AnotherReader August 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      wittle dexy is the most clever of them all, he can retype others’ comments with the best of ’em. So so clever and witty. Honestly, what a moron.

      • Dexter August 31, 2015 at 8:35 am

        ANOTHER LIAR is the most clever of them all. he can retype others comments with the best of them. so clever and witty. Honestly what a moron

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