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Sugar House Journal

Scrooge and Second Chances

Dec 07, 2015 08h36 ● By Bryan Scott

By Alisha Soeken

In the timeless tale of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge a callous miser is given a second chance to live a better life. The Desert Star Theater in Murray City was also given a second chance at life when it was purchased and renovated instead of being torn down. Before that purchase the theater saw much of life and many second chances.

The Desert Star Theater has enjoyed a long life. In it’s infancy it was called the Gem. It saw silent movies accompanied only by a piano, and remembers a world when radios, refrigerators and a woman’s right to vote, were only a recent luxury. 

In the 1930’s the Gem had it’s first second chance, as it was rebuilt and expanded into the Iris Theater. With its Art Deco style facelift it was a building like no other in Murray. It showed blockbusters like Gone With The Wind and rare Swedish films for immigrants brought to Murray by the smelters. During the Great Depression owner Tony Duvall would let children see movies for free or in exchange for scrap metal.

After the Great Depression the Desert Star continued to see change in its name and ownership. But in 2000 when Murray City recommended demolishing it, Mike and Alyce Todd gave it it’s most crucial second chance, by purchasing and saving it from demolition.  

 The value of a second chance is immeasurable, if seized as scrooge did to become a better person. Today the Desert Star is a dinner theater known for its parody plays and family friendly comedy. The proof of its positive roll is observed in the lives of those who work at the theater past and present. 

“The Desert Star has made a positive impact on my life in so many ways. It was my first job and where I had always hoped to perform. After auditioning many times I was cast in “The Hungry Games” fulfilling my dream, almost 10 years after I started working there. I also gained experience in light and sound unmatchable to any theater, made lifelong friends and to this day love seeing the fun shows they put on,” Actor Katie Terry said.

The Desert Star’s current show is, Ebenezer Scrooge: His Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s about Ebenezer’s life after he decides to reform. 

“I love the idea of a sequel to A Christmas Carol, exploring the other side of being generous. The idea that just because you turn into Mr. Nice Guy on one Christmas morning doesn’t necessarily make up for years of being a compete jerk,” cast member Dan Larrinaga who plays Bob Cratchit said.

The effort that goes into producing a show at the Desert Star is enormous. Cast member Tyrus Williams said, “We start working on all aspects of the show five weeks before we open and have 15-20 rehearsals.” Larrinaga added, “Because we rehearse while the current show is still in production and the new show opens only four days after the old show closes, as you can imagine that’s not much time, so the work is fast and furious. It’s a challenge but like it or not, it makes you a better performer.”

As proven by Williams, cast members are not only great performers. “I wear a lot of hats at the Desert Star, I design scenery and props for the shows, I occasionally run lights, do sound, and manage the stage. I’m also in charge of the general store and all the holiday decorations and lobby displays.” Williams said. 

Unlike what Williams and Larrinaga will do in their show, Charles Dickens never told of the life that Ebenezer Scrooge lived after receiving his second chance. The Desert Star was given that chance more then once, and for more then 85 years has seized it, as Scrooge did, to give of itself remarkably to others. 

Visit that historic building, watch a show, laugh and in the words of Larrinaga. “By the end of that show, I hope people will simply have been entertained, feeling better than when they came in, and perhaps finding themselves more in the mood for the holidays. Catching a bit of the Christmas spirit that people felt way back when, and now, as they read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.” 

Ebenezer Scrooge: His Nightmare Before Christmas 

Plays November 12, 2015 through January 2, 2016 

Tickets: Adults: $22.95-$24.95, Children: $12.95 

4861 S. State Street, Murray, UT 84107
Call 801.266.2600 for reservations