Arts & Entertainment

Neighborhood Non-profit: Egyptian Theatre

PARK CITY, Utah — Main Street’s beloved Egyptian Theatre has enriched Park City with performance arts for over a century. The present-day Egyptian Theatre brings diverse artistic genres, including; musicians, comedians, theatre, Sundance movie screenings, and YouTheatre. The intimate historic building, friendly atmosphere, and reasonable ticket prices help to make enjoying and participating in performance arts approachable.

Since the late 1800s, the theatre has been an essential part of Park City’s culture, and the Egyptian Theatre plays a central role. Near the current Egyptian Theatre was the Park City Opera House, which burned down in the fire of 1898. New construction on a theatre started right away, and by 1899 the Dewey Theatre opened on the site of the current Egyptian Theatre. In 1916 the roof of Dewey Theatre collapsed under immense snowfall. When new construction started in 1922, the recent discovery of King Tut’s tomb influenced the architecture and theatre’s theme. The Egyptian Theatre opened on Christmas day in 1926.

“We are passionate about the history of our beautiful theatre,” says Egyptian Theatre Director of Operations, Jenn Silva.

Theatre Manager Randy Barton (left) and Director of Operations Jenn Silva (right) – photo: courtesy Egyptian Theatre

By 1978 the theatre was in dire need of repairs and renovations to preserve the building. The local community showed their support with fundraising and collaborated with Mrs. Fields Cookies. Under the name Park City Performances, in 1981, the Egyptian Theatre became a non-profit. The same year, the inaugural Park City-based Sundance Film Festival (then called the US Film and Video Festival) utilized the Egyptian Theatre as its screening home.

The Egyptian Theatre applies its long performing arts history to choose performances. “We try to learn from our successes and our failures. We bring back our top 20 shows of the past year,” Silva explains, “We have recently learned that some shows hit the new generation differently.”

The most popular performance of the season remains steadfast. “Our most desired show for the public, year after year, continues to be the Park City Follies. We have Follies in the spring, right after the resorts close, town is extremely quiet, not at the Egyptian. We are always sold out; we take over Main Street for those performances. It is a wonderful local tradition that we look forward to every year,” Silva states.

When Egyptian Theatre launched Pharaohs memberships in 2009, its ambition was to bring in a social group of supporters. The program, which helps to sustain the theatre, is enormously successful with preferred seats, performance night socials, and private events.

“We always try our best to go above and beyond for our donors. They are truly the reason we can continue sharing the beautiful theatre with Park City,” Silva says.

The Egyptian Studios, the most recent renovation, is primarily used for YouTheatre classes and shows and occasional private Pharaohs events.

Silva explains Egyptian Studios history, “Originally, that space was donated to us by Debbie and Randy Fields, but over the years, with the changes in ownership of the building, we were removed and had to buy our way back in. Now our non-profit group Save Our Stages owns the space officially.”

“It is an incredibly versatile space. We are finally able to sink our teeth into it and show it off to our patrons,” she says.

Buying a ticket and enjoying a show is ideal for folks interested in supporting the theatre. “The best way to get involved is by attending our performances,” Silva states, “If you attend enough of our shows, it is worth becoming a Pharaoh. You receive credit towards tickets at the theatre, preferred seating at every show, and even seats when our website says sold out.”

With countless events scheduled throughout 2022, Silva is most excited about a unique rendition of a timeless classic. “My favorite show is coming up in September, The Wizard of Oz,” she states, adding this show is distinct because it will be presented and spoken and American sign language.

One of the most alluring components of the Egyptian Theatre is that any performance is guaranteed to feel intimate. “There is truly not a bad seat in the house. We are welcoming and give our patrons that hometown feel at every show,” Silva exclaims, “You can watch incredible artists from what feels like your living room.”

Even though the Egyptian Theatre did not receive a Summit County Restaurant Tax Grant for 2022, the performing arts venue remains a steadfast outlet for the arts.

“We have a major announcement coming in the next few weeks that will be informative on our next steps to continue our theatre and for the YouTheatre program to thrive,” Silva reveals.

Egyptian Theatre Over Time – photo: courtesy Egyptian Theatre

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