History

Pioneer Memorial Theatre Timeline

  • July 1960 —Construction of Pioneer Memorial Theatre begins with direct appropriation from the Utah State Legislature, Kennecott Copper, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and private donors. The theatre is intended to replace The Salt Lake Theatre built in 1862.
  • October 7, 1962 —Construction is completed. The original structure is three levels and equipped with two stages. The Main Stage seats 1,000 guests and the “intimate” theatre in the basement seats 350 patrons. The structure includes five formal classrooms, several rehearsal halls and dressing rooms. These are also used as classrooms and offices for the members of the University Theatre faculty.
  • October 10, 1962 —Pioneer Memorial Theatre is dedicated as the professional “State Theatre of Utah,” with speeches from University of Utah President A. Ray Olpin, Governor Clyde, Dr. C. Lowell Lees and President David O. McKay. Dr. Lees is named the very first Artistic Director for PMT.

FUN FACT: What was Pioneer Theatre’s connection to The Salt Lake Theatre?

  • June 13, 1964Dr. C. Lowell Lees leaves the University and Keith M. Engar is appointed to succeed Dr. Lees. During his time at Pioneer Theatre, Keith M. Engar creates the University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) contract with Actors’ Equity Association. It is the first formalized contract between Actors’ Equity and a university theatre.
  • November 12, 1972 —In its 10th season, PMT has remarkable success and higher demand, requiring a bigger building. Discussion of expansion begins.
  • Early 1980s —Engar and senior university administrators separate PTC leadership from the academic program to clarify mission and operations of PMT.

FUN FACT: Dr. Lees said there was some controversy over whether the word “theater,” as applied to the U of U theatrical activities, would be spelled “theater” or “theatre.” The U of U Board of Regents voted to accept the “theatre” spelling as the official one.

  • 1984 —Charles Morey is hired as Artistic Director of PTC, with specific direction to fully professionalize the theatre, expand the repertoire, and clarify the relationship between PTC and the Department of Theatre.
  • 1986 —PTC moved to a League of Resident Theatres (LORT) contract with Actors’ Equity which allows the theatre to become fully professional.
  • 1987 —The finances of the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre and Pioneer Theatre Company are separated. PTC is to become self-sustaining with University support.
  • 1993 —PTC generates its first surplus and begins repaying debts that have been accumulating over the years. For the next 12 years PTC operates with balanced or surplus budget.
  • 1996 —PTC begins a fundraising campaign with a goal of $5.5 million to renovate and expand the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. With a significant gift of $4.1 million from the family of Roy and Elizabeth Simmons, and the rest of the funds from donors, PTC is able to expand.
  • 2007 —PTC is the first regional theatre company to earn the rights to Les Misérables. This particular production sells out 82 performances, a record for the company, and is noted around the country.
  • 2010 —PTC announces that it has, with local developer Cowboy Partners, purchased and renovated the old University House at 1300 East and 200 South to provide artist housing for visiting actors, directors and designers. Named Meldrum House, after lead donors Pete and Catherine Meldrum, the project houses its first cast in the Fall of 2011. The budget of $3.2 million was provided by private philanthropic sources.
  • July 1, 2012Karen Azenberg is appointed Artistic Director of PTC, replacing Charles Morey. After a 28-year tenure, Morey steps down, the longest sitting artistic director of a major American regional theatre.
  • July 1, 2019Chris Massimine is appointed Managing Director of PTC, replacing Chris Lino, who retired after 28 years.