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History of Theater in Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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Early performers at the theater included Thomas A. Lyne, Mr. and Mrs. Selden Irwin, George Pauncefort, and Julia Dean, with their stock companies. Brigham Young even allowed ten of his daughters to appear onstage. His daughter Alice later married Hiram B. Clawson, the first manager of the theater (along with John T. Caine). Great actors of the time began to come to Salt Lake City because of the quality of the theater and the sophistication of the audiences. Maude Adams, a Salt Lake native who went on to star as Peter Pan on Broadway, was a particular favorite.

With the coming of the railroad, Utah was placed on the national theatrical circuit, and the Salt Lake Theater became increasingly secularized as New York booking agencies virtually controlled its attractions. Church leaders became uneasy with the loss of local standards and control. The Theater kept up with the latest technological advancements, though they were costly. Some 385 oil lamps lit the theater until 1872 when they were replaced by gas. Then, with the coming of electricity, the Railway Company furnished the theater with six lamps on each side of the building.

For a time, the Salt Lake Theater's prominence was challenged by the Walker Opera House. Built in 1882, it was located on the south side of 200 South Street between Main and West Temple streets. To settle the dispute between the two theaters, the New York booking agencies agreed to divide bookings evenly. In 1891 the Walker Opera House burned down.

Amateur dramatic groups also flourished throughout the state. The Amateur Dramatic Company of Provo was organized in 1861. The Mutual Improvement Association of the LDS Church sponsored amateur programs in the 1870s and 1880s. The Salt Lake Dramatic Company, with Lorenzo Snow (later LDS Church president) as its president, was active in the 1870s, and the Home Dramatic Company performed from 1880 to 1894.


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