With a symbolic flick of a switch, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams deemed a partially remodeled Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre ready for this holiday season's run of The Nutcracker.
The century-old theater on 200 South in downtown Salt Lake City was closed 144 days in the first phase of a two-year restoration that ultimately will cost $33.4 million. The overall project will pair the ornate theater with the Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance, a five-story building that will be erected directly west of the theater and will be home to Ballet West.
Jesse Eccles Quinney was Janet Quinney Lawson's mother.
Seated on the theater stage for Tuesday's "Light's On" ceremony were numerous Quinneys and Lawsons, Eccles and Prices, families whose foundations picked up a large share of the project's private-sector contribution. That amounted to about half of the cost, with the rest of the funding from Salt Lake County ($11.5 million), Salt Lake City ($2 million) and some long-awaited federal tax credits.
Before those tax credits came through, a $4.1 million contribution from the Janet Quinney Lawson Foundation cemented the financing to allow the project to proceed.
Honors for flipping the theatrically large electric switch went to Ellen Rossi and her son, Aksel. A granddaughter of Janet Quinney Lawson, Rossi said her family was "thrilled" the first phase of renovation was completed on time.
"It's such an anchor for the community," she said. "We're excited to get it back into tip-top shape."
Phase one work, which began June 28, included refurbishing the theater's 1,876 plush velvet seat covers, raising the stage 4 inches, providing new disabled seating platforms, remodeling the lobby, installing a new orchestra pit and upgrading heating and air conditioning systems.
McAdams praised the donors, noting "their love of the arts makes it possible for my children and many others to see dreams unfold on the stage."
With these improvements and the Center for Dance still to come, he added, Salt Lake County residents should be able to "celebrate another 100 years of performances at the Capitol Theatre."
See a video of the remodeled Capitol Theatre at www.sltrib.com.