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History of Theater in Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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Moroni Olsen, a former student of Babcock's who had also studied in the East, formed the Moroni Olsen Players in the fall of 1923; it became the only successful repertory company in the western United States in the 1920s. For seven years the company toured Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, California, and Canada putting on plays including Pygmalion and The Taming of the Shrew for schools, organizations, and communities. When the Great Depression dried up financial resources, the company disbanded and Olsen went to Hollywood, where he acted in such films as Annie Oakley with Barbara Stanwyck.

Particularly after World War I, the growth in popularity of motion pictures led to the failure of many legitimate theaters. Additionally, the Intermountain states experienced a recession in the 1920s while overhead and capital expenses for theaters increased. The Salt Lake Theater, which had never been a moneymaker, was in debt and needed $26,000 for renovation. Heber J. Grant, LDS church president and at one time the major proprietor of the Theater, sold it to Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph for $200,000. Amidst much controversy, the theater was demolished in late 1928 and a telephone exchange was erected in its place.

The Colonial Theater, which once competed with the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, became the Victory movie house and the area's pioneer "talking picture" Theater when it presented Al Jolson in The Singing Fool. It was a popular place until it was destroyed by fire in 1942. Also during the 1930s, a number of circuit movie-theater companies were formed. The Latter-day Saints also showed movies in their cultural halls, with proceeds going to various church interests.


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