By Lynn Blamires feature writer for My Local Utah
Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Ogden
By Lynn R. Blamires
A long time ago on a high school stage in the little town of Preston, Idaho, a star was blossoming. No, not Napoleon Dynamite although he made his own splash on screen and put Preston on the map.
A budding, bubbly Beverly Rae Miles played lead roles in plays and musicals during her high school years in Preston, Idaho. Coming from a theatrical family, no one was surprised at her success.
In 1951 she married Blaine Olsen, dragging him into her life on stage. There was no objection on his part. He fully supported her dream of having her own live theater. He built two of them for her – the Pages Lane Theater and Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse. He loved and attended nearly every performance although he did appear reluctantly in a couple of shows.
Blaine’s expertise was in building – not only in the theaters themselves but in the elaborate sets he built, which are still in use today. He much preferred his work to show on stage and to keep himself out of the spotlight.
Beverly made her debut in the first production presented at the new Valley Music Hall in Bountiful when she was 32 years old. She sang in vocal ensembles on stage. She enjoyed her performances at the hall, but it wasn’t the dream she had of live theater.
She wasn’t going to just wait for her dream to come true, she dove right into the theatrical fray. She wrote and produced road shows and plays, in addition to high school musicals.
Her big break came when she got a chance to team up with Ruth Hale of the Hale Theater in a playhouse on Pages Lane in Centerville. She assigned her husband to build out her new theater, which he did in 1988. I had season tickets there one year and I could see what a good job he did.
In the early nineties, she found a Smith’s store for sale in Washington Terrace. That was unheard of because, as a rule, Smiths don’t sell their properties. Instead of asking questions, she bought it.
It didn’t take Blaine long to know what role he played in this production. His job was to make that Smiths store a theater. He set to work having the excuse he needed not to be on stage. Work was completed in 1992. The opening of the new Terrace Plaza Playhouse was in time to present a Christmas favorite – A Christmas Carol.
While Beverly took classes at the University of Utah, she was never awarded a degree in theater. Her love of the stage began with children’s theater. Adult productions came as a byproduct of her work with children.
Children were brought to rehearsals by parents who waited – sometimes for hours. Bev approached them and innocently asked, “Would you like to be in a play with your children?” A fox could not be more cunning and soon they were caught up in the magic of Bev’s love of theater.
Where the children’s theater produced matinees, adult productions were presented in the evenings and many of them were as Bev had promised – family shows with mothers and fathers performing with their children. Those parents did not have a chance. They were caught up in theater fever and their children loved every minute. Families were involved down to age four.
Beverly passed away in 2005, but not before passing the baton to her daughter Jacci and her husband, Kim Florence. Jacci was well trained by her mother and I think Kim knew what he was getting into when he married her. He fit perfectly into the role of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. He is also known to show his pirate side as the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance.
Jacci got her start at three in a solo performance in one of her mother’s productions. From there, if her mother had anything to do with production, her daughter was in it – road shows, plays, and musicals. If a stage was involved, Jaci was on it.
She loved playing double billings with her mother in many shows. She joined Beverly as they played the sisters, Abby and Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace, Truvy and Clarice in Steel Magnolias, Fairy Mae and Ethel Savage in The Curious Savage, Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and Sister Hubert and Mother Superior in Nunsense.
Beverly encouraged her daughter to take leads she didn’t realize she could do. Jacci shined as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly, and that was just the beginning. She gives her mother credit for costuming. Jacci said, “My mother was a genius at pulling together what she needed for costumes to match the quality of the show.”
Jacci says that she learned from the best. She and her husband have carried on that success, but it was a struggle to run a profitable theater. In 2016, Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse went nonprofit.
With that status, she could concentrate more on production. She relied on her team to promote the performances and to give people a reason to come back again and again.
Volunteers came out of the woodwork putting in hundreds of hours of service. They have found purpose in participating.
Grants and contributions could now help assure the success of the theater. She could buy scripts that were clean and suitable for family shows.
The Playhouse is on a successful track. They have put on over 200 shows which have included over 5,000 performances. Then the pandemic hit and the theater went dark. They could have cried in their soup, but they took advantage of the downtime by renovating the theater.
The remodel was finished in 2021 and they opened with Freaky Friday. A Grand reopening and ribbon cutting occurred on June 25, 2021, and they celebrated by performing the hit musical, “Newsies.”
With a new theater seating 290, a new outside look, and a new marquee, Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse has nowhere to go but up. Their efforts will foster pride in the community, give all a better representation of the quality of productions inside, and provide a fitting showcase of the great talent we have in Northern Utah. Go to visit their website for information on shows and tickets.
Looking for a date night full of laughter, entertainment and fun then come bring your significant other to the Terrace Plaza Playhouse! Terrace Plaza Playhouse is a family-friendly venue, so bring the whole family to enjoy an evening out in Ogden together.
They have three exciting shows you don’t want to miss, running throughout the rest of the year:
- See How They Runis playing from August 12th – September 17th.
- The classic Addams Family Musical will be playing from September 30th – November 12th.
- To wrap up the year in the holiday spirit, Scrooge: A Christmas Carol will be playing from November 25th – December 23rd.
They have plays Monday, Friday, and Saturday showings, so purchase your tickets today before they sell out of their shows for the rest of the year.