During the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival, visitors have many positive things to say about Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre.
Newlyweds Bryan and Lydia LaSalle, who say film was their initial bond, viewed four films at the Grand Theatre this weekend and say they are amazed by the facilities, including ease of access.
“I got the ‘Locals Only’ pass, which was super easy, and parking here was way easy,” says Lydia, a 2003 University of Utah Film Studies and Communications graduate.
Bryan, a former Salt Lake Film Society employee, was taken aback by how quickly the volunteers ushered large crowds of ticket-holders through orderly lines.
“It was quite unusual when considering the volumes of people,” he says. “The fact it was so well organized minimized my confusion by the volunteers assisting us through.”
In terms of the festival volunteer support, Lydia was amazed at their responsiveness.
“They were very accommodating to theater-goers. Everyone kept asking us if we liked it and they were really friendly and helpful,” she says. “Sometimes you can feel like cattle being prodded because there are so many people, so it’s nice to see volunteers who are more personable.”
Bryan appreciated the welcome before the film was introduced, as he got the distinct impression that volunteers were there to help patrons have a positive experience.
“Even the announcer invited us to speak with a volunteer if we needed anything, because he said ‘they are here for you’,” says Bryan. He continued to say he’d never seen that before and that it made him feel valued as a patron.
Bryan was impressed by the overall theatre experience.
“The sound was great, the seats were great, the temperature was perfect…and I thought ‘Wow’, why hasn’t this been part of the Festival in the past? Then we were curious as to what was happening [here], as we didn’t even know it existed and we’ve lived here forever,” he says.
Mennetta Eccles, who annually attends the festival with her daughter, gives a favorable review of her experience at the Grand after viewing a film.
“It was terrific. It was well organized with all the volunteers and everybody here was fantastic,” she says. “Having local volunteers makes it nice because they are familiar with the area and the lines were well organized with barriers and such, so it all went smoothly.”
Eccles reminisced about the beauty of the Grand and the full-scale experience it provides audiences.
“Since I grew up with theaters this size; with all the seats. Most people have gotten used to theaters being cut down. They are not as nice as here. It’s a beautiful theater,” she says.
In terms of parking at the Grand and in comparison to other venues, Eccles says, “Parking was great. It’s right here. We had no problems. There was plenty.”
She adds the parking is very convenient, and differs from Park City “where it can be $20 to $30 a day to park.”
“Maybe people from big cities are used to it, but locals probably aren’t,” she says.
Eccles describes how much she enjoyed and appreciated the variety of treats and beverages offered at the concessions, which were prepared and served by SLCC’s Culinary Arts Program and SLCC’s Copper Edge.
“Some of the venues don’t allow you to have concessions into the theatre. So it’s odd when they sell it, but you can’t take it in,” she says. “Yet, we were able to do it here. That was nice.”
More guests offered feedback about their experiences at the Grand.
A female patron (requesting to remain anonymous) says of her and her husband, “We didn’t know this even existed here, as we’ve never been to this theatre.”
She says they viewed four films at the Grand this weekend [as ongoing Festival patrons] and had brought along some out-of-state friends, whom also expressed an appreciation for the venue.
“It’s such a beautiful facility,” she comments, and adds that she and her husband intend to return.
She says the only thing she would change would be more leg room on the balcony and then adds “but everything else was just perfect.” At that point, her husband chimes in as a larger man, he was “just fine.” He adds, “In fact, I think it had more room here than at some of the other venues we’ve attended.”
Having experienced it with other patrons, Bryan LaSalle says, “I think the people like the amenities more [at the Grand]…it seemed like there were fewer restrictions.”
Lydia LaSalle says she likes the open, “modern space,” as she didn’t feel confined to a hot, crowded place.
The LaSalles say that since they had never previously been to The Grand, they had a funny discussion as to the likelihood that a college theatre would have quality amenities. They even joked “How ‘grand’ could the Grand Theatre really be?”
Bryan says after their first experience, they both agree, hands down, “The Grand Theatre truly is grand.”