Old Barn Theater moves patrons away from their worldly cares

The Old Barn theater is part of the historic Hampton Ford a stagecoach stop and place the ferry crossed the Bear River.

Marvin Hull, one of the founders and board member of the historic Old Barn Community Theatre located at 3200 UT-30 in Collinston, has been entertaining audiences since 1997. When he’s not directing, staring, taking tickets or planning his next gig, he’s a History and English teacher at the Weber Valley Detention Center. He’s been a teacher there for 22 years.

Laura Lee Hull, the costumer, checks a costume for an upcoming show. She also directs one of the five shows a year.

“We never really set a goal of how successful we wanted to be, but I’m proud of what we have done here at the Old Barn,” Marvin said. “It’s a great place for people to try new things, a laboratory they can explore and grow.”

With an undergraduate degree in Journalism, Master’s in Special Ed and a Juris Doctor Degree from BYU, Hull is kind of used to being busy and handling the pressure of theater work.

He’s proven that he loves to entertain. Talented musically, he sings and plays the piano and has also been the musical director for some shows.

Hull’s wife, Laura Lee, is the costumer, but she might also direct one of the five shows a year. She graduated in Theater Arts Education from Utah State University and works with sixth and seventh graders.

The two met on stage while performing at the Stage Stop Theater, the predecessor of the Old Barn. The Stage Stop Theater was aptly named because the barn they use is part of an old stage coach stop on the site of historic Hampton Ford. Early pioneers would ferry across the Bear River near the barn. There is also an old hotel on site. The ferry eventually gave way to a bridge to transport early settlers across the river.

Marvin Hull, one of the founders and board members of the historic Old Barn Theater, works on Tarzan, an upcoming production.

When the owners of the Stage Stop Theater decided to leave, Marvin and two others decided to keep the place going and change the name to the Old Barn. Marvin is the only one of the founders that is still there.

Generally, they do five shows a year, one is usually a musical. The Hulls and other board members rotate responsibilities for the different productions.

For over 20 years, their goal has been to produce entertainment that moves people from their worldly cares to a different time and place with every visit.

Audiences have grown over the years, and so has the talent, Marvin said.

“We’ve been able to upgrade a lot of things,” Laura Lee said. “For Singing in the Rain, we made it rain; and, in Big River, we had a river on stage.”

They also acquired some new seats from the Clark Planetarium a few years ago.

It takes more than actors to create successful productions. There are also directors, a technical crew, seamstresses to sew costumes, set builders and prop people, dozens of volunteers that are never seen.

“We have a lot of volunteers that come from Cache Valley, Preston, Ogden, Brigham City and even Malad from time to time,” Laura Lee said.

A lot of community theaters don’t last. We’ve been doing it over 20 years,” Marvin said. “A community needs the theater, and the actors need to have form where they can grow.”

Marvin and Laura Lee and their twin children, Marlee Ann and Kenden, gather for a photo in the Old Barn Theater.

The Hulls’ 12 year-old twins, Marlee Ann and Kenden, have already been in nine shows. They really like being on stage, their mother said.

Shows generally run Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays for four weeks. Concessions are sold before the show and during intermission.

The Old Barn Theater has some big events coming up this year.

Their monumental 100th production will be Tarzan during the month of March.

And they have been asked to come up with a production for the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike, which will run May 7, 8 and 9.

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